Paul Newman by Shawn Levy
A Life

76%

13 Critic Reviews

...anyone looking for killer facts to tarnish the memory of Newman – Gawd bless him – will not find much ammunition in the pages of Shawn Levy's nicely paced biography.
-Guardian

Synopsis

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 titan who cared about the craft of acting, the sexy leading man known for the staying power of his marriage, and the humble celebrity who made philanthropy his calling card long before it was cool.

The son of a successful entrepreneur, Newman grew up in a prosperous Cleveland suburb. Despite fears that he would fail to live up to his father’s expectations, Newman bypassed the family sporting goods business to pursue an acting career. After struggling as a theater and television actor, Newman saw his star rise in a tragic twist of fate, landing the role of boxer Rocky Graziano in Somebody Up There Likes Me when James Dean was killed in a car accident. Though he would joke about instances of “Newman’s luck” throughout his career, he refused to coast on his stunning boyish looks and impish charm. Part of the original Actors Studio generation, Newman demanded a high level of rigor and clarity from every project. The artistic battles that nearly derailed his early movie career would pay off handsomely at the box office and earn him critical acclaim.

He applied that tenacity to every endeavor both on and off the set. The outspoken Newman used his celebrity to call attention to political causes dear to his heart, including civil rights and nuclear proliferation. Taking up auto racing in midlife, Newman became the oldest driver to ever win a major professional auto race. A food enthusiast who would dress his own salads in restaurants, he launched the Newman’s Own brand dedicated to fresh ingredients, a nonprofit juggernaut that has generated more than $250 million for charity.

In Paul Newman: A Life, film critic and pop culture historian Shawn Levy gives readers the ultimate behind-the-scenes examination of the actor’s life, from his merry pranks on the set to his lasting romance with Joanne Woodward to the devastating impact of his son’s death from a drug overdose. This definitive biography is a fascinating portrait of an extraordinarily gifted man who gave back as much as he got out of life and just happened to be one of the most celebrated movie stars of the twentieth century.


From the Hardcover edition.
 

About Shawn Levy

See more books from this Author
Shawn Levy is the film critic for The Oregonian and the author of The Last Playboy, Ready, Steady, Go!, Rat Pack Confidential, and King of Comedy. He lives in Portland, Oregon, with his wife and three children.
 
Published April 25, 2009 by Crown Archetype. 514 pages
Genres: Biographies & Memoirs, Humor & Entertainment, Arts & Photography. Non-fiction
Bestseller Status:
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Peak Rank on Jul 19 2015
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Critic reviews for Paul Newman
All: 13 | Positive: 12 | Negative: 1

Kirkus

Excellent
on Jun 24 2010

An illuminating look at one of the true greats, full of humor and intelligent analysis—highly recommended.

Read Full Review of Paul Newman: A Life | See more reviews from Kirkus

Guardian

Above average
Reviewed by Vanessa Thorpe on Oct 17 2009

...anyone looking for killer facts to tarnish the memory of Newman – Gawd bless him – will not find much ammunition in the pages of Shawn Levy's nicely paced biography.

Read Full Review of Paul Newman: A Life | See more reviews from Guardian

Guardian

Above average
Reviewed by Vanessa Thorpe on Oct 17 2009

...anyone looking for killer facts to tarnish the memory of Newman – Gawd bless him – will not find much ammunition in the pages of Shawn Levy's nicely paced biography. The film star is revealed as an admirable, complex and energetic superstar, worthy of at least some of the adoration laid at his feet.

Read Full Review of Paul Newman: A Life | See more reviews from Guardian

Examiner

Good
Reviewed by Ben Miles on Mar 04 2011

To his daughters, Newman uttered his “last recorded words.” He confided to them, “It’s been a privilege to be here.” Read Levy’s fine treatise on Paul Newman and you’ll be entertainingly convinced that the privilege was ours.

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Christian Science Monitor

Good
Reviewed by Stephen Humphries on Sep 26 2010

Levy’s meticulously researched biography is as revealing a portrait as one could hope for, given that he didn’t have access to Newman or his family.

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USA Today

Good
Reviewed by Susan Wloszczyna on May 04 2013

Being able to bask in Newman's Own insights is enough to bring this one-of-a-kind star back to life, however briefly. And to miss him terribly again when the final page is turned.

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Pajiba

Good
Reviewed by mswas on Feb 01 2010

Biographer Shawn Levy had a great biographical subject in Newman, and he carries it off very well. It wasn't 'til the end that I found out that Levy never got to meet Paul Newman.

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The Seattle Times

Above average
Reviewed by Moira Macdonald on May 10 2009

The result is a biography that at times struggles with pacing (the classic biographer problem: a tendency toward a monotonous and-then-he-did-this chronology), but ultimately is a graceful tribute...

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Oregon Live

Above average
Reviewed by Fran Arrieta-Walden on May 08 2009

While the creative artist's journey shapes this book, Levy does not ignore any of the facets of the man's life, including his stumbles and mistakes.

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NY Daily News

Good
Reviewed by JOE NEUMAIER on May 23 2009

Newman’s been gone for less than a year. And like his films and the charities bearing his name, this well-researched book reminds us of why we loved having him here.

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Chron

Above average
Reviewed by ANN HORNADAY on May 24 2009

Combining that with his own reporting and interjecting his own critical analyses of Newman’s screen persona, Levy has respectfully and respectably summed up Newman as a man in full.

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Creative Loafing Tampa

Above average
Reviewed by William McKeen on Jul 16 2009

If you liked Paul Newman – and really, who didn’t? – then you will love Levy’s biography. Don’t come here looking for dirt. It’s not an obsequious, fan-worshipping biography, but Levy obviously likes the man.

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Oconee Regional Library

Good
on Jun 10 2009

Biographies are usually limited in their appeal to most readers. Paul Newman, A Life, has something for anyone; a quality book about a truly remarkable man.

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Reader Rating for Paul Newman
77%

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