Paul Newman Will Tell His Own Story, 14 Years After His Death

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Knopf plans to people a publication adjacent twelvemonth based connected hours of recordings the movie prima near behind, arsenic good arsenic interviews with family, friends and associates.

Paul Newman, who appeared successful  specified  films arsenic  “Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid,” “Hud” and “Cool Hand Luke,” died successful  2008.
Credit...via Knopf

Elizabeth A. Harris

Nov. 3, 2021, 5:00 a.m. ET

Decades ago, the histrion and philanthropist Paul Newman, frustrated by each the unauthorized biographies and sum of his life, recorded his ain oral history, leaving down transcripts that for years were forgotten successful the basement laundry country of his location successful Connecticut.

Now his household has decided to crook those transcripts into a memoir, which volition beryllium published by Knopf adjacent fall.

“What helium recorded, and successful essence what helium wrote, was truthful honorable and revealing,” said Peter Gethers, an editor-at-large astatine Knopf who volition edit the book, which does not yet person a title. “It showed this bonzer arc, a feline who was very, precise flawed astatine the opening of his beingness and arsenic a young man, but who, arsenic helium got older, turned into the Paul Newman we privation him to be.”

Newman — known for his bluish eyes and 50-year acting vocation successful movies specified arsenic “Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid,” “Hud” and “Cool Hand Luke” — died successful 2008 astatine property 83.

The publication began much than 30 years agone arsenic an oral past task enactment unneurotic by 1 of Newman’s closest friends, the screenwriter Stewart Stern. Stern, whose 1968 movie “Rachel, Rachel,” was directed by Newman and starred his wife, Joanne Woodward, spent respective years interviewing radical from each corners of Newman’s life, including his children, his ex-wife Jacqueline Witte, adjacent friends, and actors and directors who worked with him. This produced thousands of pages of transcripts and convinced Newman helium should bash his ain version. Stern peppered him with questions, Gethers said, and they created recordings that are a premix of interrogation and Newman speaking without prompts.

The recordings, completed astir 10 years earlier his death, picture Newman’s aboriginal life, including his hard narration with his parents, arsenic good arsenic his troubles with drinking, his shortcomings arsenic a hubby successful his archetypal marriage, and his flaws arsenic a parent. It is candid astir his sorrow erstwhile his son, Scott, died of a cause and intoxicant overdose astatine 28.


Credit...via Knopf

The publication besides delves into Newman’s insecurity successful his younger years, exploring his jealousy of peers similar James Dean and Marlon Brando erstwhile they were each moving successful Hollywood.

“He said that his parent did not truthful overmuch deliberation of him arsenic soma and blood, but arsenic a decoration,” Gethers said. “He says that if helium was not a beauteous child, she ne'er would person paid attraction to him astatine all. It’s a devastating happening to read, and intelligibly forms truthful overmuch of his beingness and his insecurity astir being an actor.”

The memoir volition besides screen his matrimony to Woodward, which Gethers called “remarkably loving, affectionate and sexy,” arsenic good arsenic his acting vocation and racecar driving.

The publication was purchased astatine auction this spring, Gethers said. It volition beryllium astir 80 percent memoir, with the remaining portion based connected the recordings Stern made with radical adjacent to Newman. It volition besides see antecedently unreleased household photographs.

The transcripts were fixed to Knopf, which was past charged with turning it into a book. (After the steadfast bought it, much transcripts were recovered successful a retention portion successful Connecticut, successful a banker’s container marked “PLN / HISTORY,” Gethers said.) Stern died successful 2015, truthful Newman’s daughters are participating successful the editing process, successful essence arsenic an writer would, approving changes and drafts.

Gethers himself is the writer of 13 books and respective screenplays, and has produced movies and tv shows. He said that portion wooing the Newman household during the bidding process, helium told them that his father, a TV writer and producer, wrote 1 of Newman’s earliest starring roles successful 1956 connected a amusement called “Rag Jungle.” Gethers besides mentioned that helium had 2 cats named for Newman roles: Harper and Hud.

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