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Paul Newman: A Life

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3.68 of 5 stars 3.68  ·  rating details  ·  642 ratings  ·  107 reviews
Paul Newman, the Oscar-winning actor with the legendary blue eyes, achieved superstar status by playing charismatic renegades, broken heroes, and winsome antiheroes in such revered films as The Hustler, Cool Hand Luke, Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid, The Verdict, The Color of Money, and Nobody’s Fool. But Newman was also an oddity in Hollywood: the rare box-office tita ...more
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Published May 5th 2009 by Crown Archetype (first published 2009)
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(showing 1-30 of 1,291)
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Bethany
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Julie
Interesting but laborious ... lots and lots of detail, but in no particular order ... Most biographies are written in chronological order or at least by subject matter, but this one was like someone threw information pick-up-sticks in the air and wrote it like they landed. ..sometimes with duplications. For someone as accomplished as Paul Newman, I expected a better read. Some similarities of other Hollywood men - booze, infidelity, lousy at being a father while his children were growing up, but ...more
Bonnie
I'm really on a biography kick! Paul Newman: A Life really depicts an amazing life of an amazing man. It hardly seems one book can cover all that he was, from an Oscar winning actor to a championship racecar driver, to a fabulously generous philanthropist, and of course dedicated husband and father of six. I learned things I never knew about Newman (that he was born in Shaker Heights, that he had been married before his legendary 50+ year marriage to Joanne Woodward, and that his famous Newman's ...more
Harley
Paul Newman was born in Cleveland, OH four months after my mother was born in central Illinois and seven months before my father was born. He was clearly of my parents' generation. The Paul Newman I discovered was an actor who played rebel characters that inspired me in my youth. My favorite movies were Cool Hand Luke, Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid, and the Sting. All released between 1967 and 1973.

In this biography I learned much more about Paul Newman, the human being. His was a strong li
...more
Rob
A perfectly acceptable biography. It's nothing special, but Levy does avoid meaningless gossip for the most part. There is some repetition of facts (okay, Paul Newman drank a case of beer every day, you don't have to keep reminding us!) and there are definite gaps in the story since it's an unauthorized biography. It will do until someone else can really delve into this remarkable man's life.
Mara
Most of my stars are for Paul Newman himself, he was an interesting man who led a life worth telling the story of, which made for a decent book (I listened to this as an audiobook). The author did a good job covering the bases and leading the path through that life, but I found the writing style a bit smarmy from time to time. It had that feel of someone trying to shoehorn extra large words into their writing in order to appear more intelligent. This did not help the audiobook reader any, as he ...more
Keenan Johnston
"He created characters whose allure hid complex and painful depths. If his looks would make him a star, he would redirect that stardom into a benefit for others, slapping his face on labels of food products and making staggering wealth-just to give it all away. If he was a sex symbol, he'd work hard being a good husband and father. If his wealth meant that he could take up motor sports at a high level, he would work as tenaciously at racing as acting to earn acceptance through acquired skill. If ...more
Sharon
What a man, what a man! I'm a fan of biographies and this has been one of my favorites, so far. I learned so much about all of the facets that made Paul Newman that special person so many loved. Actor, husband, father, race car driver, business owner, philanthropist, director, and all-around good, human being. He had his faults definitely, could have been a more, present father but he loved his children and I was surprised he only had two grandchildren at the time the book was written.

Don't know
...more
Wendy
My Runner-Up for best Non-Fiction or BIO that I've read in 2011!

Truly one of the better (or best) biographies I've read, although I'm not sure if that's due to the writing of author Shawn Levy or the subject he was writing on.

Paul Newman certainly didn't have a closet full of skeletons and didn't lead a dramatic life worthy of tabloid gossip. So it may have been easy for Shawn Levy to give the world such a great bio on Paul Newman, the "husband, father, actor, movie star, sex symbol, entrepren
...more
Diane
Paul Newman is one of our true movie stars, back when that phrase really meant something. His death last year reminded us what a unique individual he was- an actor, movie star, race car driver, husband, father, grandfather, businessman, humanitarian.

Shawn Levy has written a new biography, titled PAUL NEWMAN- A LIFE. And it was quite a life he lived. I vividly remember my mother taking me to see "The Sting", starring Newman and Robert Redford. It was one of the first grown-up movies I saw, and I
...more
Ruth


Paul Newman was mainly known to the world as a movie star – an icon, really – with a beautiful face, mesmerising blue eyes, and a air of rascality about him. His long marriage to Joanne Woodward was revered in a profession where marriages often seem to break up almost as soon as the vows are read. This book is a journey through Newman’s life, from his happy childhood as the son of the owner of a successful sporting goods business, to the start of his acting career, and of course, his Hollywood s
...more
Carole
So far, very good research for the book. Since I live in Cleveland, I was very attuned to Levy's recounting of life in Shaker Heights and Cleveland in general during Newman's youth. It seemed fairly accurate and full of melting pot/Industrial revolution information. Shaker is a ground breaker, having one of the earliest subway (transit) systems in the Country.

I finished it, I'll keep it at four out of five stars mostly because it was well written. The rest of it was an interesting account of an
...more
Tony Bertauski
As Newman fans go, I'm a casual one. Color of Money, The Hustler, Slapshot, Coolhand Luke...that's as far I get. I chose his biography to learn more about the man that raised millions for charity, the man that remained married for 40+ years, the man that seemed to be as genuine and gritty as his characters.

This biography doesn't disappoint.

Like most people that have mastered a craft, he didn't just fall into it. He studied it, he obsessed over it, he fought for it. And while there were certainly
...more
Matt
Full disclosure: Levy covers film at the Oregonian, and we know each other. But I've been enjoying an advance proof of this book, immensely.

Levy's theory is that Newman may not have been the best actor of the 20th century (Brando! Brando! Brando!) but that he was the most American.

When he first got to New York, Newman sold encyclopedias from his apartment in Long Island in the afternoons, after touring all the agents' offices in the morning in a white suit, for several months.

He may have been
...more
Martha
This was a very interesting read. The book is well researched, largely avoiding the gossip that characterizes many celebrity profiles. Very detailed, it nonetheless held my attention throughout (though some of the most intimate details left me feeling a bit uncomfortable). Levy draws a well-rounded picture of his subject, referring throughout the book to the themes that characterized Newman's life: luck, gratitude, focus and passion for his pursuits, love for family, involvement in the issues o ...more
James Biser
I love biographies. This was a great read. It is funny how we think we get to know an actor because we become familiar with and relate well to several of the roles they have played in films. This book gave me the insight that Paul Newman is very likeable and more interesting than Hud, Butch Cassidy, Doc Hudson, or even Cool Hand Luke. This book is a good choice to dedicate some time to. You will find that Paul Newman can be a hero as much or more than any of the characters he has given voice.
Barbara
This is one of the best show-biz bios I've ever read. The book is not just 'he did A, then B, then...' Instead, Levy has demonstrated the way that Newman's life is reflected in his choice of films. His love of racing (he still was racing in his 80s!!), his political views and actions, his family, a life is more and his demonstrated philanthropy are described with the same importance as his acting ... after all, a life is more than a job.
Barbara
This book is certainly worth the read. There are two things that are going against me at this point. I have always been a hugh admirer of Paul Newman, perhaps more for his humanitarian work than for his acting, althought I certainly appreciated that aspect of Newman. I feel that I am getting to know a little too much, a private life that should be kept private, they way he chose to live it. I remember one of the occasions I was fortunate enough to see him perform in person in CT, I brought a pai ...more
Jan
Wow! Quite a guy- he was not only a terrific actor but an amazing human being. A very complete biography, and well-done; it had a little too much info on all the films he made, for my taste- that became tiresome. He certainly lived a full life- born in Cleveland, dad owned a big sporting goods store but Paul was never any good at sports, WWII vet, college grad, married young and had three kids. Joanne was his second wife, with whom he had three more kids. A heavy drinker most of his life. Politi ...more
Jack
It never fails when completing one of these biographies, you seem compelled to sit down and watch so many of the movies described. This bio was written without the assistance of Paul Newman or his family. Consequently it is a documented timeline of Paul Newman's world as it can be defined through newspapers, magazines, film archives, other's books and interviews that both he and his wife have given. Several of the Newman's friends and work associates were also interviewd. Not to say there weren' ...more
Elizabeth Harless
A Fitting Tribute

Written with compassion & understanding, this biography of Paul Newman provides a picture of not just the movie star but the man behind those incredible blue eyes. It presents him in all his human frailties and strengths, & shows us why he was so beloved by not just his fans, but all who knew him.
Jim Linneman
Cheated on this one, listened to the audio version on a long car ride. Well written and you will be amazed at the life Newman lived. Lots for interesting information for those old enough to remember all the actors Newman spent his life acting with.
Ivan Rott
Fantastic biography of one the coolest and greatest men of the 20th century. Levy goes in depth about Newman's upbringing, his foray into acting (stage and film), his storied romance/marriage to Joanne Woodward, his passion for race car driving, and, most enjoyably, his fervent activism and philanthropic efforts. I was a bit disappointed that Levy chose to give credence to tabloid-driven rumor of an extramarital affair Newman allegedly had (research suggests this is total BS). I'm not calling Ne ...more
Leslie
Pretty good celebrity biography. Hard not to like Paul Newman. Sometimes, the details about choosing a project or who said what to whom during filming; who rewrote; who was considering role; what was the working title, seemed to slow down the story a bit. All in all a pretty good read.
Tom Turbiville
I swore off of movie star bios but I've always been a fan of not only his work but his charities. He did live a full life and it's well chronicled here.
Peg
Paul Newman was such a private person he apparently didn't sanction anyone as his personal biographer. Nonetheless, Shawn Levy, author if this biography of Newman's life, writes with remarkable detail and clarity. I was surprised to learn at the end of the book that Levy had never met or even talked to his subject. In any event Paul Newman was not only one of our best known actors, but a family man , accomplished race car driver, food entrepreneur and a philanthropist of unparalleled magnitude. ...more
Cindy Michael
As a fan of Paul Newman movies and an admirer of his successful marriage to Joanne Woodward (so rare in Hollywood), this was a must read for me. Paul Newman guarded his private life, so this book did not contain "juicy gossip" as some other tell alls. At times when the author stuck in editorials..it drug a bit..but I found I could skip over those pages. My admiration for Paul Newman as an actor, man and of course as a philantropist was enhanced..and I would like to go back and watch again many o ...more
Marla
This biography tells about Paul Newman's youth in Ohio, love of the stage, work ethic and the way he liked to joke. The book displays him as a nice guy, who knew his faults. He never felt comfortable with his good looks, which may be why he enjoyed playing dark characters in the movies. The book talks about his marriage to his soulmate, Joanne Woodward, and their fifty years together. This is a well-researched book. I learned some new facts about Paul Newman, who was known for guarding his priva ...more
Jake Shimanek
Learned a lot about Newman. Seen a few of his movies from the 70s through 90s. Inspired me to go a watch and re-watch some to see the effects his life events had on his particular performances.
Claire
Almost wish I hadn't read it. You never want to know your matinee idols have clay feet. Still, an interesting and illuminating read.
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