September 29th, 2008
09:28 PM ET
When I met Paul Newman
I'm a fortunate man. Paul Newman once gave me an interview.
It was the summer of 2003 and he had left his home in Connecticut to come to Long Beach, California, to see his racing team compete in the annual Grand Prix. He was 78 at the time but hadn't given up racing cars himself, although he was not behind the wheel that day.
We sat down for a chat as the race cars roared around the course nearby, producing a sound I can only liken to a million bees buzzing violently in your ear. The sound was visceral and exciting - it was the first time I really understood the power and thrill of auto racing.
Newman wore those kind of "Blue Blocker" teardrop-shaped sunglasses just low enough on his nose that his famous blue eyes peered above them. He was not the kind of star who felt the need to put on false bonhomie with an interviewer. Yet he was generous with his time.
We talked about his passion for racing, which had been ignited decades earlier while shooting the movie "Winning" about an up-and-coming race car driver. He told me the feeling he got from driving a race car was "very close to sex. Something seductive. The cars themselves are almost immoral."
He said racing satisfied the competitive side of his nature, which could never be completely fulfilled by acting.
"It's hard to be competitive about acting because there are so many unknowns. Who's to say that one performance is better than another actor's?" he told me.
Newman did not like to be fussed over and the impression I got from my time with him is that he enjoyed the camaraderie of his racing cohorts because they didn't treat him like a big deal. Despite the adrenaline-fueled atmosphere of the track, Newman, paradoxically, could relax there.
He told me he had tried other sports such as tennis and skiing, but discovered the perfect fit in a race car cockpit.
"I have no physical grace at all," he said without any self-consciousness. "You can check my wife's feet if you don't believe me. Every time I dance with her, they're crushed."
He was polite and pleasant during our interview, laconic at times and expansive when talking about the particulars of what makes a great race car driver. After the interview he hopped aboard a fire red scooter to make his getaway. Crowds gathered around as he maneuvered the vehicle and he looked uncomfortable with all those eyes directed on him. Then he hit the gas, the crowd parted and he sped away toward the track. There was a big smile on his face. He was liberated by speed.
- Matt Carey, CNN Entertainment Producer
Editor's note: The original post said Mr. Newman was in Long Beach for a Formula One race. It was a CART race. The sentence has been edited.
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This article on marquee.blogs.cnn.com is bookmark worthy in my opinion. It's worth saving for future reference. It's fascinating reading with many valid points for contemplation. I have to concur on almost every point made within this article.
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racing is the first thing in my heart and i also love to join auto racing for the adrenalin rush ;**
we love autoracing and we always watch indy car races both home and abroad*.~
Auto racing is the name of my game. I like to watch auto racing and i'm a muscle car fanatic.';.
I don't know why he didn't like "The Silver Chalice". He was my favorite actor,before Denzel Washington, from then on. I was 12. I even carried a picture of him in my wallet and being black, I was not afraid to tell it. The man was super fine to the end.I even bought sunglasses that looked like his. I attended several Grand Prix events in Detroit, hoping to see him. The man was pure class!
I also met Paul Newman, It was a summer in the late 60's when he was in Indianapolis make the movie " The Winning ". I saw three trailers park side by side and walked up to one ( being only 15 I had the nerve ) I knocked and Paul answered with a big grin. Robert Wagner was sitting inside at a table, they had been going over their lines. Paul was very happy to sit on the step and talk to us. Such a nice man. It was like talking to my Dad or an Uncle. Very genuine. I will never forget his kindness. On the other hand Robert Wagner seemed rather annoyed with us and totally ignored us. I have not been a fan since. I then went to the next trailer and knocked, Low and behold Paul's wife waved thru the window at us and we were then surrounded by what seemed to be body guards thas told us to leave the area now, as we did. What a great memory of the nice man Paul Newman was.
I met Paul brielfy more than ten years ago at the Beverly Hilton Hotel in Beverly Hills. It was at some movei related event. Anyway a friend of mine gave Paul a vido tape of a movie that he thought Paul like to producer as a remake. What stands out in my mind is that for the next hour or so that Paul was there, he held onto the tape. Many
others stars would have tossed it or perhaps given it to an assistant but not Paul, he was too classy a guy and probably felt it would have been rude to do that. Paul passed on the movie but from what I remember he had the tape sent back with a nice letter.
So sorry to hear you think no one cares about meeting Paul Newman or peaceful memories, and to say you want us to get over ourselves. If you are not into good will and what we are sharing, 1st, why are you reading this site & 2nd, please do something to make yourself happy...
Good wishes for you John,
all my best,
Donna Dean Cordova
PAUL NEWMAN WAS A CLASS ACT
He never put himself on a pedestal but instead prefer to mix with the common crowd.
I remember witnessing a situation where a waitress was about to take his order and he said
I believe they ( black family ) were here ahead of me
When the waitress refused to wait on the black family
(late 60's in Los Angeles – not the deep south)
Mr. Newman and his friend quietly got up and left the restaurant.
When I next saw him – in Calif in the 70's – He was kind enough to give me an autograph which was for a terminally ill fan of his.
I loved Paul Newman from the first movie I saw him in, "The Silver Chalice." I was about 6 years old at the time. Those eyes won me over. Through the years, I had great respect for him as an actor. In every film he appeared in though the film may not have been considered a box office success, Paul Newman's performances were always outstanding. I loved him in "Cat on a Hot Tin Roof, The Hustler, The Sting, Cool Hand Luke, Mr. & Mrs. Bridge, and the last film I saw him in, Road to Perdition." I admired his humanitarian work and purchased his products because the proceeds went to his charities. My condolences to his family and friends, and to all who were touched by the gifts he gave us through his craft.
Why oh why do we want to put actors/actresses above us. Paul's line of work was acting, "acting". When the director exclaimed "thats a wrap" Mr. Newman reverted back to Mr. Human being, who had to reach around and wipe and flush the toilet like everyone else. He was a excellent actor, and worked at being that. He enjoyed his job, took his craft seriously and was well compsensated. He knew his place in this world. He shared because he was a good human being and cared about and aided the less fortunate of this world. "You don't need bags of money to do that". I respected Mr. Newman and Mrs. Newman for showing that they were just down to earth people who happen to have a good paying job.
I didn't meet Paul Newman, but I met someone who raced against him. The deal was that Paul was in a bus waiting before the race, and somebody as a gag sent a kid over to walk around the bus in a tshirt that said "Paul Newman has chicken legs" on it. Paul Newman saw the kid, and the door of the bus came open and he pulled out some cash and asked the kid to name the guy who gave him the tshirt to wear. Reluctantly, the kid gave Paul the name of the instigator, and for the purpose of this story we'll call him "Bobby". Well, during the race, Paul had managed to find an airplane that towed a banner over the track during the whole race that said "Bobby is a Mama's boy".
You gotta love a sense of humor, and stuff like that makes the world go around. Life is too short not to have a good time, and Paul Newman knew that as well as anybody. I'd say he was cool, and he showed it by his charitable actions, but also with a great sense of playfulness.
Barbara posted that her family had interactions with Paul Newman during the 50's in Fresh Meadows, Queens. We lived there, too, and I recall my mother telling me she would run into him at the local market and that he was often barefoot for some reason.
My father was a Los Angeles florist. One of his customers was a well known Hollywood producer who was wooing Nell Newman (then a pre-teen) with flowers, for a part in his next movie. As luck would have it, the Newman family was living in Beverly Hills and my father asked if I would like to deliver the order. No stammering on my part, I answered with a resounding 'yes'. Imagine my surprise when the door was opened that morning by Paul Newman himself – white bathrobe and newspaper under his arm. He said 'good morning', graciously accepted the delivery with a few minutes of small talk, smiled kindly and disappeared for a few seconds only to return with a $2.00 tip. The two bucks are long gone but his smile and twinkling eyes have stayed with me.
I met Paul Newman at a Volvo dealership that I worked at in Westport, Ct. in 1990. I knew he didn't give autographs because he didn't want anyone making money off his signature after he passed away so I made a copy of his check when he paid for service work. Still have it to this day...His eyes were amazing and he wasn't very tall....He was a down to earth man and very approachable.
its probably been at leat 25 years ago ! Why would you spend money to see his film if he left you with this impression? Please let it go, I am sure you will be a myst happier person.
I saw Butch cassidy & sundance kid on tape in a small town in India by chance20 years back,I was hooked on to his acting, and saw many of his movies my fav being coolhand luke.
I think he was a very underrated actor, he did not get many great roles-maybe because of his good looks. I think he is no less than brando or nicholson.
the last one i saw him was in road to perdition and enjoyed it. I expected him to live on forever, you dont want loose such people.he will be missed.
Paul Newman was unique in his humility mostly because he was so famous, but he was genuinely down to earth, sincere and gracious. Our paths crossed more than a few times over a 15 year period when I managed restaurants in New York and New Haven CT. In March of 1993 the Academy of Arts and Sciences fealt compelled to celebrate the 25th anniversary of "The Graduate". Small problem was that both Dustin Hoffman and Anne Bancroft refused the offer to present the two writing awards. The Academy kept pressuring them but both declined. At the last minute the Academy accepted the compromise that Anne Bancroft had offered after they kept insisting. She told them that they could cut away and shoot them live from the Russian Tea Room, the east coast headqurters for the Academy on Oscar night. Carnegie Hall, just one door down from the Russian Tea Room on 57th street had a different problem on their hands. I'm sure someone lost their job for the error, but their annual fundraiser was scheduled on the same night as the Oscars. They had no problem raising money because the supporters all bought their tickets, but Bill Cosby had to play to a half empty Carnegie Hall due to the number of people who couldn't miss the Oscars. When the show broke at Carnegie Hall and the crowd was teeming out onto the street Paul Newman, Joanne Woodward and a young Asian couple quietly walked over to the Russian Tea Room to duck inside and have a quiet cocktail and wait for the crowd to disperse before getting picked up. The look on their faces when they saw the two ten foot tall Oscar statues by the entrance to our dining room, especially Mr. Newman's was fantastic. I was just coming down from Ms. Woodward's dressing room (Faith Stewart Gordon's office) when they walked in and it did not take a mind reader to know that they wanted no part of the festivities, but they didn't want to go back out and face the throng outside either. I greeted them and told them that I had a quite corner table on the second floor if they needed privacy, or there was room at the table with Mel Brooks and Lisa Hoffman, Dustin Hoffman's wife. Mr. Newman, as discreetly as he could, trying to avoid embarrasing his guests, told me that they would like to avoid seeing anyone. As I escorted them up the stairs to our second floor dining room Ms Bancroft came through the door from the third floor just as we reached that landing and Ms Woodward and Mr. Newman were as gracious and warm as could be and made sure to introduce their young guests. Time was short because Ms Bancroft was about to go on live television downstairs. The encounter was so normal and sincere that it made an impression on thier young guests as well as myself. Ms Bancroft made her way past us to go down the stairs and I escorted the party to their table and Ms Woodward turned to her husband as we crossed the room and said "She looks terrific, doesnt she?" He responded "Yeah, even in makeup." When I sat them at their table and took their order I was not suprised at all when 3 beers and a glass of wine were ordered. Mr. Newman was himself at all times and when you've meet as many celebrities as those of us in the service industry do over years of service, it is more than a breath of fresh air to meet someone so honest and humble, it reminds you of what celebrity is supposed to be. An honor, a privilege and a bit embarrassing. Those who wear it best never take it that seriously. Mr. Newman was a true gentleman in the best sense.
I think the world is a better place because of Paul Newman.
He was a great humanitarian who donated millions upon millions of dollars with his Newman Own food line. I think he is one of the most respected actors in hollywood not only because of his acting and charity work but the relationship that he had with the love of his life for 50 years...which is not a priority these days in Hollywood. My condolances go out to the family. He will be missed.
I met Mr Newman at the 1995 Daytona 24 Hour race. My brother was racing, and Newman's pit was next to his. My brother and others told me the rules – at the racetrack Newman was more than personable if you wanted to talk racing, but if you asked for autographs or talked show business, he would likely just walk away. Knowing this, I spent about ten pleasurable minutes in the middle of the night chatting with him after he came off one of his driving shifts. He was every inch a gentleman. I later learned that it was his 70th birthday that day.
I hear you Glenn, and concur.
Not sure the year, probably late 70s, I was in the sales area of Bob Sharp Motors in Georgetown, CT.
I heard someone ask me " Got a Match?" and when I looked up it was Mr Newman! He was smiling at me, in a polite sort of way, and I replied," No, sorry..." not sure what happened after that since I was so excited. He struck me as very relaxed and not at all "CELEBRITY", perhaps it was the racing car(s) of Bob Sharp Motors ( that I think he drove?) that had him in such a good way.
Rest in Peace Mr. Newman.
My uncle was a race car driver. He raced with Newman when I was about 15/16 years old. In Brainerd Minnesota. I met him and my mother was a great photographer and he allowed her to photograph him upclose. The photos are wonderful and I'm encouraging her to sell them.
I never met the ICON. I can tell you if a human heart could be made of gold his was. The lives he touched the hearts he healed we will forever be counting. His greatness is that of John "The Duke" Wayne, James Stewart, Henry Fonda, Clint Eastwood and Robert Redford. We have lost a strong character at heart. He will be missed dearly. From "Cat on a Hot Tin Roof" through the hands of "Cool Hand Luke" till "The Color of Money" He carried many actors and Actresses to the top. Now we have all those memories plus The Hole in the Wall camp. Although the last of the great ones are gone his legacy will forever shine. Thank You Paul Newman you should be a KNIGHT cause you gave us your heart. Always in the heart. Anything less you be "A FAILURE TO COMMINICATE"
I never met Paul Newman, but was always impressed with what he did with the means that he had. Being a racing fan myself I love the way he truly followed his passions to the end, auto racing and caring for children in need. He has indeed set an example to others to create something meaningful that will last far after they're gone.
My only encounter with the legend was on location in the Bronx during the filming of Fort Apache in the late 70's. I was a kid along with dozens of others who had a chance to see a real star for the first time.
As he exited his trailers we chanted his name in hopes of an autograph or at the very least a greeting. I will never forget this great humanitarian turn to us and say "F-off" and walk away. I guess he was having a bad day. Havn't seen one of his movies since.
I was lucky to meet Mr. Newman at a race years ago in West Virginia. I'm not even a racing fan, but got invited to go and had no idea such a big star would be there. We were kind of "walking by" his trailer and he came out to say hello to everyone. I was a teenager at the time and he already had white hair, but WOW, so handsome and up close, you could really see why his blue eyes were so talked about! The color of Windex and just so sparkling. He was taller than I'd imagined and really, really handsome. After growing up and reading about all the wonderful charitable things he's done, I realized that he was truly a beautiful person, outside and IN! His passing is a huge loss for so many. Best wishes to his lovely wife, family and friends.
Paul Newman lived in the 50s in Fresh Meadows, Queens, NY with his wife and children (his first marriage). My sister was about 14 years old working in the local dry cleaner when he came in and announced, “Hi, I’m Paul Newman” — my sister, who wasn’t taken much by celebrity, asked him “and how do you spell that?”
There were stories about how he created quite a stir when he attended a grade school play his son was in…with all the women turning their heads to look at him…and not the play where their own children were performing.
My only interaction was when I was 12 and stood behind him in Whelan’s Drug Store…my claim to fame.
He was a magnetic personality and a wonderful actor whose choices in life were admired by many.
It was in the late 70's when I first met Paul. I was around 8 or 9 years old and we were at Summit Point Raceway. My dad's racing RV was parked next to Pauls and I wanted to get his autograph all day but my Dad said to wait until after dinner when the racing was done for the day. My dad finally said it was ok to ask for an autograph but the racer refused to sign it but he did grab the half a hamburger in my hand and gobbled it down laughing the whole time. Paul will be missed greatly we all need to follow his lead.
I think that the thing that people have to realize is this: Actors are human, falible, and not the demi-gods that us "normal" people would have them be. They have highs and lows, good days and bad. If you were snubbed by Paul Newman, maybe it was just a bad day for him. Sorry for you, but if your life has been ruined because the man didn't sign an autograph for you, wow....that's all I can say. After all that I've read, Paul Newman did much more good in his life than bad. Good luck Paul, wherever you are.
Paul and I happened to begin our racing careers at the same time in the 70's. We were SCCA Road Racing at places like Lime Rock, Watkins Glen, Road Atlanta, etc. As was mentioned in the piece, we were too busy with our own cars to pay much attention to him, but he was friendly to all of us.
One race our cars were lined up on the grid and we were talking to each other before the race. I heard a voice call my name and turned around to see a gorgeous girl at the fence with a camera. I thought I'd hit the big time until she said, "Hey Doug, would you move aside so I can get a picture of Paul?" Grrrrrr...
Got to see him tape "Inside the Actors Studio." He was gracious and funny. Was great when he was talking with the students directly.
Thank you, Mr. Newman.
I have always enjoyed Pual Newman.s movies and we purchase his tomato sauce which is beyond comparison, especially the Marinara sauce. We will miss him but thank God for his movies which have become a must with us. The movies world has really lost a great one with him this time and I personally place him alongside of John Wayne. God bless. Jim 9/30/2008
I had the pleasure of meeting Paul Newman on the set of his film Mr. and Mrs. Bridge. They were shooting a scene at a historical Native American school down the street from my high school. Our forensics class was fortunate enough to be able to walk down to the set and meet the cast. Mr. Newman was nothing but gracious, funny and accomodating.
Paul Newman Not Such A Nice Guy To Me:
I was invited to attend a race that Paul Newman participated in in the early 1980s. I knew one of the other race car drivers-whom I was of course hoping would win. My driver came in second place, and Mr. Newman came in third-if I remember the sequence correctly. I was standing near the winner's crcle and screaming for my driver when I saw Paul Newman give my a long and very dirty look. I was surprised at this because that's what fans do-yell their favorite driver's names.
A while later a friend and myself were walking in the garage area of the race cars- and walking towards us was Mr. Newman and part of his pit crew. There was no one near us, just myself and another girlfirend and Newmans party. I walked up to him and meekly asked him to sign my hat. He looked straight ahead and walked right by me as well as his pit crew. I was mortified and so embarrased. My girlfriend told me I should have told him his tomato sauce, (which he is known for), stinks. I did not say any thing, I felt so bad. I was only a skinny young girl who was out having fun and there was no one else around when I asked him for that autogragh. I got the impression that he was spiteful for me calling out for the "other" driver.
To this day I feel bad he was so rude to me. I have spent my hard earned money on tickets to see his movies which in turn paid his millionaire salary. (The Color Of Money was a film he made shortly after this event happened).
He has received much pupliclity for his charity works and his camps for kids and I do not deny this kindness side of him but I have to say this one time that he was purposfully rude and hurtfull to a young girl so much so that I still remember it. It was hard for me to approach such a big STAR and ask for that autograph. To be ignored like that was just awful. He could have just said "No" to me.
Here's a funny post script to this story-I tried think of reasons why he did that-like maybe he was a private person and he just did not want to sign a hat for a fan because he may not do those things, kept thinking of reasons why he was like that-well, when my friend and I returned to our rather large group in the stands, they said "Hey you just missed Paul Newman a while ago-he had stood here and signed autograghs for all of us!" I guess there was puplicity there-no one was around me when I approached him-was it all for "show"???
Well, yeah, he definately was rude to me after all.
Happy Trails Mr. Newman!
In 1978 I was a young apprentice at the Berkshire Theatre Festival in Stockbridge, Massachusetts, where Joanne Woodward and Shirley Knight were appearing in a production of Lillian Hellman’s THE CHILDREN’S HOUR. Before a performance I was downstairs in the basement that also served as a Green Room when I looked up as the bulk head door leading down from outside opened. Light streamed in from above so I couldn’t quite make out who it was coming down the stairs, but the silhouette was of a very trim, compact man. As he drew nearer and the light was better, I thought I recognized who it was … but then realized I was mistaken ... it was actually Paul Newman. I was breathless, but blurted out, “Oh my God, I thought you were Johnny Carson!” Without missing a beat he sailed past me and said “Nope, kid, he’s taller.”
After that afternoon’s matinee I saw him again backstage and he winked at me and said “And no Ed McMahon.”
He was one of our greatest, on and off screen. Thanks for the memories.
The Newmans sadness is felt. Handsome, yes, giving, yes. And never a taint of scandal.....
Tim- what a great story. I would cherish that photo forever.
Sounds like he was a classy guy.
Hey John, grow up.
I never got even close to or tried to meet Paul Newman. My only comment is that from what I have read the man was a great, generous down to earth human being and a great actor. I only wish more wealthy people would follow his example of giving. We need more people like Paul Newman to give away their excess.
God Bless him now and his family. may others learn form his example of charity.
What great stories to read of the memories of meeting Paul Neuman. He was always one of my favorite actors. I also appreciate how much of a humanitarian he truly was. His legacy will live on in all the food and programs he set up for so many charities.
May God Bless his family for their dear loss.
My condolences to Mr. Newman's family on the loss of a wonderful husband, humantarian, actor and all around fantastic human being.
My brush with this great Actor came in the early 90's while attending UNC @ Wilmington; Wilmington, NC at one time was a big movie production town. It was a Monday nite and I was down at my local watering hole drinking a few cups of Joe watching MNF game. The Bar/Restaurant was deserted and while talking w/a few friends who were working there told me that Paul was having dinner; he was in town filming the Hudsucker Proxy. About an hour after my arrival, a few of the wait-staff, came running into the Bar joking around that Paul Newman's credit card had been rejected; we all marveled at his credit card that got rejected. Jokingly I told my friend who was waiting on Paul's table, "Tell Paul dinner is on Me'! Thinking nothing of my earlier comment, in walks Paul Newman and asks the Bartender who offered to buy his dinner; all fingers pointed my way. What shocked me most was his slight stature; after his fight w/George Kennedy in Cool Hand Luke, I thought this guy was bigger than life. He came up introduced himself and thanked me for my humble gesture. After a few minutes of chit-chat, I asked if he would autograph a bar-napking for me. Ever the classy guy Paul was, he said to give my address to his personal assistant and he'd send me one; so I did on the bar-napkin. Thinking I'll never see anything, I was surprised a couple of weeks later when I got a large manilla envelope post marked in NYC. I opened it up and there it was, a picture of Paul sitting behind a camera with the salutations, 'To Tim, Best Wishes, Paul Newman. To this day I still have his picture and it's hanging up in my home office. Paul Newman was larger than life as well as good to his word.
In 1968, I was 20 years old, working at a local bank. Mr. Newman was in town campaining for McCarthy. Mr. Lipman, the owner of the local radio station heard that I was a big fan. He arranged for me to go to the small store front where Mr. Newman and Mr. McCarthy were. Mr. Lipman introduced me to Mr. Newman and Mr. Newman shook my hand and said "nice to meet you Pat.". What a thrill – and to this day, one of the highlights of my life!
Nice piece Matt but the racing that Mr. Newman was involved with at Long Beach was not Formula One but America's version, the Indy type open wheeled cars of CART (Championship Auto Racing Teams).
Paul refused me an autograph at Watkins Glen in about 1980. I was in 8th grade. He said, "Sorry son I don't sign autographs. How about a bottle of whiskey instead?". He and his buddy in the racing trailer laughed.
Oh boy, I got to meet Paul Newman. No one cares. Get over yourself.
It was 1968, I was in JR and he was speaking at my girlfriends house in Merrick, for McCarthy. My friend was only allowed to invite 2 friends. I remember my mother asking me to see if his I were really so blue! The next time I met Paul Newman was outside Cherry Lane Theatre in the Village about 2 or 3 years ago. It was a Robbie Benson play and I was waiting with just a few others by the stage door. Something I really never do, but I really enjoyed the performance and was glad to see Robbie Benson involved in something new again. When I door opened I never expected to see Paul Newman and Joanne Woodward walk out. I was standing by the curb and Joanne was signing autographs outside the door, Paul refuse kindly. As he stood next to me, by his car, I turned and said I met you in Merrick and then I couldn't get anymore words out.... He kindly said, you met me in Merrick, go on. And I said you came to my girlfriends house to campain for McCarthy and his blue eyes grew wide and said your right it was 1968, then he very kindly signed my playbill. I think he got more handsome in his later years.