Candid shot of Paul Newman

Knopf Publishing has announced an upcoming memoir by Paul Newman that will cover his thoughts on acting, directing, family, fame, Hollywood, Broadway, love, his marriages, drinking, politics and racing. Newman, who died in 2008, began secretly writing his memoir in the ‘80s, and it recently was found in his Connecticut home, where his widow, Joanne Woodward, 91, still lives, suffering from Alzheimer’s.

More than a matinee idol, Newman became a great philanthropist. Today, many people know him more from his picture on “Newman’s Own” bottles of salad dressing, pasta sauce, wine, etc., than from his films. Created in 1982, Newman’s Own has donated $600 million to charities. He was Oscar-nominated 10 times and finally won a best actor Oscar for “The Color of Money” (1987). 

But there was another side to Newman. At 18, I was shooting photos for movie magazines. Paul and Joanne were on Broadway in “Baby Want a Kiss” at a theater next to Sardi’s Restaurant. I haunted their stage door for photos, but he always said “No.” On their last day, as they went into Sardi’s for dinner, I handed him an envelope and watched him read it to Joanne. My poem read:

Dear Mr. Newman, You’ve rarely been one of those who’d stand still for a picture and pose.

“Take it on the run,” is what you always say ... so I do, and a blur is what I throw away.

Mrs. Newman’s often difficult too. “Posing,” she says, “I never do!”

“I’m a wife and a mother,” she always replies, and that always draws a couple of sighs.

As a wife and a mother, she should get off the stage, why can’t she be nice, like Geraldine Page?

She’s a wife and a mother, just like her, at least she stands still so I don’t get a blur.

I followed you to your garage last week and heard you speak ... “Did it ever occur to you it might embarrass me?”

But it’s part of fame, Mr. Newman, don’t you see. In all the time you take saying what you won’t do, I could have taken 10 snaps of you.

Why can’t you have that old fashioned vice,

instead of being disagreeable, try being nice.

That night I ran after his car, and after saying, “Great poem, you’re a great poet,” he finally posed, and that photo accompanies this story.

The next week, I encountered Joanne Woodward at Oscar rehearsals. “Don’t I know you from New York?” she asked.

“Yes, I gave you the poem at Sardi’s.”

“We loved it,” she said, “hung it in our basement and show it to all our friends!” Wonder if my poem will be in the book?

(c) 2021 King Features Synd., Inc.


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