Posthumous Memoir Reveals Paul Newman Nobody Knew

It's 'surprising for its candor and vulnerability,' writes NYT's Dave Itzkoff
By Mike L. Ford,  Newser Staff
Posted Oct 18, 2022 4:26 PM CDT
Posthumous Memoir Reveals Paul Newman Nobody Knew
This cover image released by Knopf shows “The Extraordinary Life of an Ordinary Man: A Memoir” by Paul Newman.   (Alfred A. Knopf via AP)

Paul Newman has a posthumous memoir, and it reveals a man “dogged by self-doubt, perpetually questioning his choices, and plagued by past mistakes,” according to Dave Itzkoff of the New York Times. As Itzkoff notes, the book is not a product of Newman “sitting down at a keyboard and typing out his personal history.” Instead, the content was assembled from interviews Newman gave to screenwriter and close friend Stewart Stern between 1986 and 1991. Newman died in 2008 and Stern in 2015, and nobody knew about the interview transcripts until a family friend found them in a locked cabinet at the Newman family estate in Connecticut.

According to Itzkoff, the book—The Extraordinary Life of an Ordinary Manis notable for its "remarkable candor," as Newman recounts difficult events from his childhood, his first marriage, his own struggles with alcohol, and the death of his son in 1978 from a drug overdose. Clea Newman Soderlund, the youngest daughter of Paul Newman and actress Joanne Woodward, said she was familiar with many of the events in the book but felt “paralyzed by [her father's] deep sadness.” Another daughter, Melissa Newman, recounted that her father “was fascinated by this idea of how people viewed him versus how he felt about himself. … I always had this vision of my dad standing beside a giant billboard of himself. And he’s waving at the bottom of the billboard, going, ‘I’m over here.’” Read the full review here. (More Paul Newman stories.)

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