‘The Extraordinary Life of an Ordinary Man’ by Paul Newman

My Review (5 stars out of 5)

In 1986, together with close friend and screenwriter Stewart Stern, Paul Newman began to tape an oral history. His aim was to provide a biographical record, including comments from family members, friends, actors and movie directors. The idea focused on everyone being entirely truthful – a no-hold-barred account of his life from childhood to the early nineties. Though Newman is said to have destroyed the tapes later, the memoir had already been committed to print.

Having been a fan of Paul Newman since I saw ‘Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid’ in the nineteen seventies, I was keen to hear this apparently accurate account of the actor’s life. From a troubled childhood and a difficult relationship with his mother, Newman recalls details of his acting career, moviemaking and relationships with family and friends. The book contains comments by, among others, Tom Cruise, George Roy Hill and Joanne Woodward, giving their own take on different aspects of the man’s life. While Newman’s intent was to, supposedly, reflect the truth of his life, he manages to avoid all but the slightest hint of his womanising ways. His apparent 18-month affair with journalist Nancy Bacon during the filming of Butch Cassidy, for instance, or his affair with actress Shelley Winters are never mentioned.

Nevertheless, this is a fascinating account which reveals an unexpectedly philosophical attitude, as Newman endeavours to understand the decisions he’s made, the things he’s done and the path he chose in life.

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  2 comments for “‘The Extraordinary Life of an Ordinary Man’ by Paul Newman

  1. 12/03/2023 at 5:41 PM

    I do like reading autobiographies, Colin. This sounds like a good one.


    • 13/03/2023 at 7:58 AM

      What’s most interesting is the way he analyses the decisions he’s made in his career.


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