Monday, August 08, 2022

Raymond Chandler: The Detections of Totality

Widely considered an inveterate nihilist, the most misunderstood late 19th-century philosopher Friedrich Nietzsche, once observed: "In some remote corner of the universe, poured out and glittering in innumerable solar systems, there once was a star on which clever animals invented knowledge. That was the highest minute of 'world history' - yet only a minute. After nature had drawn a few breaths, the star grew cold, and the clever animals had to die." Russian writers of the period like Turgenev, Dostoyevsky, Herzen and Chernyshevsky are almost unmatched in portraying nihilism in thought and action. Examples of extreme nihilism can be found in characters, largely villainous, who stress on how life, the universe, and everything are all meaningless to fight over, how existence is insignificant, and morality illusory. Homer's Iliad, is one example, others can be found in the works of H.P. Lovecraft, Ayn Rand, Joseph Conrad, George Orwell in "1984" and in "Keep The Aspidistra Flying".

However, it is the other end that should be of more interest - and value for us is the "anti-nihilism" whose proponents, occasionally being nihilists themselves, are maybe of a more realistic and constructive sort. They are, by no means, under any illusions of the beneficence of their world or society or fellow people, and know how terrible and unfair all these can be, but still, as a conscious choice, they choose to be caring, loving, or compassionate. For they do not seek to revel in despair or dissipate their intense cynicism - which remains internal, but arrogate to themselves the right, the power to create meaning, values and purpose in their life. Hollywood director Stanley Kubrick summed it up well: "The most terrifying fact about the universe is not that it is hostile, but that it is indifferent. However vast the darkness, we must supply our own light." Like their polar nihilist counterparts, the anti-nihilists also know compassion, love and empathy are only fictional, but the difference is that for them, these are fictions still worth believing in, and acting on.

Most conscientious private detectives (Raymond Chandler's Philip Marlowe, in line with the author's "Down these mean streets a man must go who is not himself mean..." sentiment), police officers (say Martin Beck and his friends in Per Wahloo and Maj Sjowall's pioneering Nordic crime fiction series, Steve Carella, Mayer Mayer, and others of Ed McBain's 87th Precinct), and even superheroes, are the best example of these tropes in fiction. Take Batman: Bruce Wayne, having undergone a seemingly random and meaningless tragedy that left him an orphan, could have decided that life itself was meaningless and turned to depression. Instead, he chose to focus on what his parents meant to him and to his home city Gotham, re-inventing himself as a champion of order and justice, against the mayhem and chaos caused by the Joker, the Penguin, and the like.

Terry Pratchett's Discworld books feature quite a few proponents as principal protagonists, especially Death, represented as an anthropomorphic personification, and is wise too ("You need to believe in things that aren't true; how else can they become?"), and City Watch commander Sam Vimes. But the best example is Lord Vetinari, the city's competent and benevolent ruler, who repeatedly mocks the inherent evil/stupidity of people, but perseveres on for them regardless. He once also goes on to give a graphic example of the indifferent cruelty of nature he observed, and concludes it taught him that if there was a supreme creator, it was the duty of every sentient being to become a moral superior. Camus uses the mythological villainous Greek king, condemned to ceaselessly roll uphill a heavy boulder - which rolled back to the base as soon he reached the summit - to show why we must keep doing what we have to do without thinking it futile. "...The struggle itself toward the heights is enough to fill a man's heart. One must imagine Sisyphus happy," he ponders. Source:

Marxist theorist Fredric Jameson’s essay on Raymond Chandler: The Detections of Reality is interesting yet also frustrating in its constant search of analogies fitting into a Marxist context. The essay is actually a monograph consisting of three chapters whose main thesis is that Chandler’s novels are all essentially the same story, and Marlowe travels from space to space, the spaces each defining different socio-economic realities. The ‘crimes’ are all incidental; the search/journey is the point. In the end, the search validates Heidegger’s distinction between the ‘world’ and the ‘earth’—our historical/cultural ethos and the material world in which it is set. Marlowe discovers that separation and thus offers an interesting example of modernism which reinforces the theories of such continental thinkers as Barthes, Benjamin, Jakobson, Althusser and Heidegger. When Chandler studied at Dulwich he came under the influence of A. H. Gilkes, who had a profound respect for the ‘common man’—a view that affected P. G. Wodehouse, C. S. Forester and other prominent writers. This, along with Chandler’s own painfully-won knowledge of British snobbery helped to shape his views of culture and society. Jameson argues that the real villains in Chandler’s crime novels are “societal” villains, e.g. police corruption; the Chandler villains are all “institutional”—big government, big unions, organized crime, big business, and so on and it is his ongoing argument that these structures are often in cahoots with one another and always at the expense of the lone, decent individual. Chandler makes this point at length in the peroration of “The Simple Art of Murder”. That isolated individual struggling to be heroic in the face of long odds and long guns is Chandler’s hero and he fits very nicely within the ethos of both modernism and film noir. It is one of the truly interesting aspects of twentieth-century literature that there is not a long distance between Eliot’s Waste Land and Chandler’s Los Angeles. Source:

Professor of Cultural History and American Literature Cynthia S. Hamilton writes in Western and Hard-Boiled Detective Fiction in America: From High Noon to Midnight, "Chandler's misanthropy demands an absolute separation between Marlowe and the moral squalor of his society". In her view Marlowe is antisocial, an "alienated outsider who vindicates that stance by his demonstrable superiority in a society unworthy of his services." Chandler took on the daunting challenge of using the highly individualistic figure of the private eye to explain how and why American rugged individualism has failed. Chandler reserved his bitterness and contempt for society as a whole and those who occupied the upper echelons in society in particular, whom he considered “phoney.” Roy Meador observed the disillusioned affinity between Chandler's The Big Sleep and John Steinbeck’s The Grapes of Wraith, also placing them alongside Nathanael West’s The Day of the Locust; all of which were published in 1939. However, of these novels, Meador argues that The Big Sleep is by far the most popular because as a character, “Marlowe encompasses the others and reaches out to new dimensions”.

One might then expect Chandler's class bias to have endeared him to a Marxist critic such as Ernest Mandel, who, however, feels that Marlowe, among other detectives, is a sentimentalist who wastes his energy on pursuing criminals who wield only "limited clout". It is doubtless Chandler's reluctance to make any global condemnation of the capitalist system that bothers Mandel. Chandler consistently and symbolically sought redress for social ills within the democratic system as he knew it in the United States, within the liberal tradition. In "The Simple Art of Murder," he insisted that no social or political hierarchy is truly divorced from the "rank and file" in a democracy, and thus cannot be completely blamed for its failures. Ross Macdonald's primary criticism of Chandler is that he is too moralistic; Like other critics, Macdonald misreads Chandler's "The Simple Art of Murder," overemphasizing Chandler's call for "a quality of redemption" as a "central weakness in his vision" in novels. Chandler isolates his hero, Philip Marlowe, by means of "an angry puritanical morality". Chandler's deepest concerns - his interest in the community as well as the individual, his hatred of the abuse and the abusers of power, his conviction that ethical conduct must be continually scrutinized - are inevitably what Hollywood was most concerned to change onscreen.

Where Carroll John Daly's, Dashiell Hammett's, and Mickey Spillane's heroes display the self-sufficient, self-aggrandizing traits of classic rugged American individualism, Chandler—through Marlowe—is sometimes prone to critizice the individualist myths. In a world in which the police are as guilty of egregious violence as criminals, Marlowe roundly condemns both; his toughness is measured not by resorting to such extreme measures, but by his refusal to respond violently to the threats of gangsters (Eddie Mars in The Big Sleep, Laird Brunette in Farewell, My Lovely) or the police (Christy French in The Little Sister, Detective Dayton in The Long Goodbye). "No matter how smart you think you are, you have to have a place to start from; a name, an address, a background, an atmosphere, a point of reference of some sort," says Marlowe in The Long Goodbye. In transforming the figure of the hard-boiled detective, Chandler created a new paradigm, not only for a new detective, but for a new individual as well.

Toward the end of his life, Chandler came to feel that L.A. had become a grotesque and impossible place to live. It was a “jittering city,” sometimes dull, sometimes brilliant, but always depressing to him. In his later years, Chandler commented that he felt L.A. had completely changed in the years since he’d arrived. Even the weather was different. “Los Angeles was hot and dry when I first went there,” he said, “with tropical rains in the winter and sunshine at least nine-tenths of the year. Now it is humid, hot, sticky, and when the smog comes down into the bowl between the mountains which is Los Angeles, it is damned near intolerable.” The function of the work of art is to open a space in which we are called upon to live within an existential tension. Chandler’s novels insist on this “unresolvable tension,” his work at best exemplifies noir as existentialism, engendering for readers what amounts to a spiritual ethic—a practice of balancing in the void. 

Raymond Chandler was otherwise described, in the course of his life, as cynical and gullible; reclusive and generous; depressive and romantic; proud and paranoid. The influence of Chandler is far beyond a detective novelist (he admired Dickens, Flaubert, and Fitzgerald). Chandler was admired by W.H. Auden, Camus, and Graham Greene. Black Mask was a pulp magazine which had been set up by two New York editors in 1920 to support the lossmaking but prestigious literary magazine Smart Set. The connection with Smart Set – whose most famous contributor was F. Scott Fitzgerald – was an ironic one for Chandler. Despite being his predecessor, Chandler did not consider Hammett to be an especially good writer: ‘What he did he did superbly,’ decided Chandler, ‘but there was a lot he could not do. For all I know, Hemingway might have learned something from Hammett.’ "Marlowe was an idealist," Chandler admitted, ‘he hates to admit it, even to himself.’ Chandler believed that the entire intellectual establishment was in a state of terminal self-delusion, cut off from the public it despised. Such people thought they could write, he said, ‘because they have read all the books, but they are in fact hacks’. 

Suspicious as he was of most institutions, Chandler was politically non-partisan. The trouble was, he believed, that post-war Western culture was being controlled by the first generation of highbrows not to have a grounding in the classics. Without God and without heroes, it was a generation that admired the art of writing itself rather than writing about things that meant anything. Nervous fashion had replaced wisdom. ‘The critics of today’, he told Charles Morton, ‘are tired Bostonians like Van Wyck Brooks or smart-alecks like Fadiman or honest men, confused by the futility of their job, like Edmund Wilson.’ They were all hooked on syntax and pessimism, ‘the opium of the middle classes’. To a correspondent who suggested that Marlowe was immature, Chandler replied sharply that if being in revolt against a corrupt society was immature, then Marlowe was extremely immature. -"Raymond Chandler's Philip Marlowe: The Hard-Boiled Detective Transformed" by John Paul Athanasourelis (2017)

Thursday, August 04, 2022

Marilyn Monroe's 60th Anniversary of her death

In interviews with over 700 people, Anthony Summers, author of Goddess: The Secret Lives of Marilyn Monroe (2017) encountered nothing to suggest that Daryl Zanuck or any Hollywood producer assaulted or raped Marilyn Monroe. Summers says he is fearful about Andrew Dominik's new film based on Oates' novel, Blonde, starring Ana de Armas. Summers said: "When Oates’ novel Blonde came out, her defence was that, in a work of fiction, she ‘had no particular obligation’ to the facts. In my view, that is not so. The people she named in her novel were real people with real reputations – and historical legacies – and such fictional fabrication is unjustifiably cruel. The fact that the individuals concerned are dead is no defence." ‘The scale of the Monroe myth is impossible to measure,’ Professor Sarah Churchwell wrote in her book "The Many Lives of Marilyn Monroe" (2005): "More books have been written about the star than about any other entertainer. More than 20 films already offer a fictional version of her life story." Will the coming Netflix film be an indulgent wallow in her sex life and in conspiratorial fantasising about her death, or deliver something worthwhile? Source:

Donald McGovern: Netflix, the gigantic streaming service did not invent scandalous or salacious entertainment, but they have the authorship of a content company that churns out such provocative reflections on reality, week by week. Its latest slop, served for an audience of armchair detectives, is a special kind of gross. The problem is you have to be familiar with the subject matter. Most of the public which watches this will not be. When I first learned that Netflix would be airing a doc that intended to reveal some previously unheard tapes obtained by Anthony Summers, I assumed the tapes would only be the interviews obtained by the author during his research prior to writing Goddess. These mysterious secret tapes were purportedly made by private detectives Fred Otash, Bernard Spindel, and Barney Ruditsky, all three of questionable character and honesty. Of course, Summers offered some commentary about his investigation into Marilyn’s life, but primarily her death and her sex life. Some of the interviewees knew Marilyn, or alleged they knew her anyway; but most of the persons that Summers interviewed, or at least the tapes of interviews that he included in the movie, operated on the periphery of Marilyn’s life. 

Several persons who were actually an integral part of her life, Pat Newcomb and Susan Strasberg for instance, persons that Summers interviewed just to mention two, did not receive any airtime, did not even receive a mention. Marilyn’s three husbands, Jimmie Dougherty, Joe DiMaggio, and Arthur Miller did not appear. Marilyn comments prophetically: “Because the true things rarely get into circulation. It’s usually the false things.” But Anthony Summers certainly could not be interested in false things, could he? Marilyn signed her initial Fox contract on the 26th of August in 1946 at the tender age of twenty years. Besides, Al Rosen never represented Marilyn, a fact that did not, of course, preclude a possible acquaintanceship. Still, Summers did not tell his audience that Rosen was not Marilyn’s agent. Rosen told Summers that Marilyn and the powerful movie mogul, Joseph Schneck, were lovers. After all, Rosen concluded, “Schneck was a human being;” and Schneck was not alone. He was just one of Marilyn’s many potential human beings. Of course, Summers did not report that both Marilyn and Joe Schneck denied that they had been lovers. Each maintained steadfastly that their relationship was strictly platonic. 

Marilyn Monroe denounced the rumors circulating through Hollywood that she was Mr. Schenck’s paramour. She called these rumors "scurrilous lies". Also, according to Marilyn, the aging producer never solicited her for sex. According to Albert Broccoli, who later produced several 007 movies, Schneck had kind feelings for Marilyn. Broccoli asserted that Marilyn’s wonderful smile invigorated Schneck: his face brightened when he saw her. All Joe Schneck wanted from Marilyn, according to Broccoli, was her friendship. But according to Rosen, Marilyn’s name was in the little black books of Hollywood moguls. The reason Summers and Netflix positioned Rosen’s interview at the start of their flick is painfully clear: it’s all about the voyeurism, it’s all about the sex. Still, just how well Al Rosen actually knew Marilyn and when he actually knew her is open to debate. And not one of the many Marilyn biographies that I consulted even mentioned Al Rosen. Hmm. 

Marilyn’s psychological difficulties have been discussed and written about frequently; her personality and her behavior have been analyzed by psychologist and psychiatrist alike. Leading to diagnoses that Marilyn possibly struggled with a bipolar disorder along with a borderline personality. Her mood swings and her feelings could be extreme. Her thoughts could be intensely focused on her profound unhappiness. Tired of the incessant gossip, Marilyn asked both Rupert Allan and Ralph Roberts if they had heard the rumors regarding a romance between her and Robert Kennedy. When each man responded affirmatively, she responded emphatically that the rumors were false. And she confided in each man that Robert Kennedy, although she appreciated him, was not her physical type. Even Peter Law­ford testified to the LAPD that what had been written by various authors about Marilyn and the middle Kennedy brothers was pure fantasy. And Lawford reported to Randy Taraborrelli: “All of this business about Marilyn and JFK and Bobby is pure crap. I think maybe—and I’m saying maybe—she had one or two dates with JFK. Not a single date with Bobby, though…” Also I have several serious issues with Arthur James’ testimony. But for the sake of brevity, I’ll discuss only one at this time: the assertion that Marilyn spent a weekend with her alleged good friend and confidant in Laguna Beach. James says that, “We met in Laguna a month before she died. She came down for the weekend and she told us…what had really taken place with the Kennedys.” There are only two weekends during which this purported visit to Laguna Beach could have occurred within a month of her death: the last Saturday in June and the first Sunday in July (June 30th and July 1st), or the first weekend in July (July the 7th and 8th)

I can only surmise that Marilyn did not inform Arthur James of any other life altering events that she had recently endured, at least not on the tape Netflix and Summers shared, just her alleged shattering break-up with the middle Kennedy boys. “As a person, my work is important to me,” she commented in early 1962. “My work is the only ground I’ve ever had to stand on.” Considering that her profession was in serious peril at that time, surely she would have mentioned that fact to her dear friend, Arthur James; and too, clearly there are calendar date conflicts. She could not have been in Laguna Beach if she was with George Barris at Santa Monica Beach or with Richard Meryman at Fifth Helena Drive giving an interview. Arthur James also testified that Marilyn “was terribly hurt when she was told directly never to call or contact” the Kennedys again. An order that supposedly came from both the President and the AG: “That’s the end of it.” 

Curious. If Robert Kennedy abruptly dispatched Marilyn and ordered her not to contact him ever again, why did he and his wife invite Marilyn to attend a party at their Virginia mansion shortly afterwards? Under the circumstances described by Arthur James, for Robert Kennedy to have extended that invitation was certainly nonsensical. Researcher Donna Morel asked Arthur James if he had “any letters, photos or any type of evidence to substantiate his relationship with Monroe.” James admitted, just like Jeanne Carmen, Robert Slatzer, and Ted Jordan, that he likewise had no evidence, no proof that he even knew the world’s most famous movie star, much less that he was one of her confidants. But of even more importance is this: James denied asserting that Marilyn visited him at Laguna Beach in 1962, a month before she died. He reported to Donna that Marilyn’s weekend visit occurred “at least a year earlier than that. Then he seemed to indicate this happened in the early 1950s and she would stay at an apartment building he owned.” So, James denied saying what he had clearly said on tape; at least the tape that Summers decided to use. 

A considerable amount of testimony pertaining to Robert Kennedy’s Puritanical attitude and behavior has been offered over the years. Testimony from acquaintances, friends, and even FBI agents dispatched by J. Edgar Hoover with the expressed mission of mining muck on one of Hoover’s archenemies. In his posthumously published memoir, William Sullivan, who was Deputy Director of the FBI under Hoover, asserted that the boss desperately wanted and attempted to catch Robert Kennedy in compromising situations. But the FBI director never did because Robert Kennedy “was almost a Puritan.” Agents of the FBI often observed him at parties during which the attorney general “would order one glass of scotch and still be sipping from the same glass two hours later,” Sullivan asserted. The stories involving a love affair between Bobby Kennedy and Marilyn Monroe were just that, stories started by Frank Capell, “a right-wing zealot who had a history of spinning wild yarns.” According to many persons who knew Robert Kennedy, he was a devout Catholic. And regarding whether or not Marilyn was under the influence of a “Bobby thing” or a “Jack thing,” 

Jeanne Martin recalled that her impression was both. Miriam-Webster Dictionary defines impression as follows: “An often indistinct or imprecise notion or remembrance.” Gloria Romanoff, wife of restaurateur Michael Romanoff, briefly mentioned the Lawfords’ 1962 dinner party, which Marilyn and Robert Kennedy attended on the 1st of February, along with many other guests, including Robert Kennedy’s wife, Ethel, Pat Newcomb, Edwin Guthman, and John Seigenthaler. Tony Curtis and his wife, Janet Leigh, also attended, along with members of the media. As Gloria noted, during the dinner party, Robert Kennedy telephoned his father, who had recently suffered a serious stroke; and Marilyn spoke to the aging patriarch. During the course of that same evening, Gloria reported, Marilyn actually danced with the attorney general. John Seigenthaler, Robert Kennedy’s administrative assistant and his friend for most of his political life, noted in a newspaper article: “Yes, Robert Kennedy danced with Marilyn Monroe. So what? I danced with Janet Leigh. Ethel Kennedy danced with Tony Curtis and Bobby danced with Ethel. It was dinner, dancing, conversation—and that was it;” and according to Seigenthaler, Robert Kennedy’s social encounters with Marilyn were just that and nothing more. Besides, Marilyn’s friendly conversation with the ailing Joe Kennedy, Sr., who could barely speak, and her dance with Bobby, proved nothing, except this: any activity, regardless of its innocence, can be transformed into innuendo and used to suggest an ill intent; especially when one is looking for it." 

Besides, Summers was primarily interested in Marilyn’s decline, a topic about which he often asked his interviewees; and he asked if Margaret Feury saw Marilyn “in the time of her deterioration?” Apparently, Feury did not respond anything. In May of this year, I contacted Joan Greenson via email. I hoped she would agree to open a dialogue with me, during which we could discuss Marilyn along with the Greenson family’s association with Anthony Summers. The Greenson family, I had been warned by Donna Morel, felt that they had been misled by Summers about the kind of book he was writing. On the same day Fox filed their lawsuit for breach of contract, Dr. Greenson sent Marilyn for an examination by Dr. Michael Gurdin, the eminent Beverly Hills surgeon. Greenson was alarmed when he saw that Marilyn’s eyes were black and blue and swollen. According to Dr. Greenson, Marilyn provoked her injuries when she slipped and fell while taking a shower. Even though Marilyn’s nose was not broken, she retreated to her Fifth Helena Drive hacienda, where she sheltered herself for sixteen days. She didn't want be seen in public with a bruised, discolored face. 

Then, on Monday, June the 11th, Fox officially suspended production on Something’s Got to Give. Due to Marilyn’s bruised face, she declined several invitations to attend social events, including an invitation from Ethel and Robert Kennedy to attend a party honoring Pat and Peter Lawford at Hickory Hill, the Kennedy’s Virginia home. Marilyn dispatched her regrets in the now famous telegram to the Kennedys regarding her fight for minority rights and her right, as an earthbound star, to twinkle. It's probable due to her bruises, Marilyn increased her painkillers supply alongside her sleep medication. Finally, on the 5th, 7th and 9th of July, she gave Richard Meryman what would be her last interview for Life magazine. Source: kennedysandking

The Netflix Blonde movie trailer intimates that de Armas’ character has Dissociative Identity Disorder (DID). As a mental health condition that typically sees one person with a “host” personality and one or more “alters,” this implies that de Armas will not be playing Monroe in the traditional sense but will likely be playing Monroe as an alter for host, Norma Jeane. The trailer suggests that in this instance of DID the host personality has little or no control over the alters and vice versa. As detailed by the American Psychiatric Association, each personality state “takes control of the person’s behavior” and has a unique and distinct way of processing and relating to the world, frequently leaving the other states with long lapses in memory. This appears to be the case in the Blonde movie, with de Ana de Armas beginning the trailer as the host Norma Jeane at her dressing room, begging for her alter, Marilyn Monroe, to take control—thus relieving what appears to be an extremely shy Norma Jeane of a public appearance. While the implications of this speculative reimagining are substantial in respect to how the public perceives Monroe, the idea that Monroe was a product of Norma Jeane’s DID is surprisingly plausible.

As is commonly the case with those who develop DID, Norma Jeane is believed to have endured multiple forms of trauma at a young age. Furthermore, looking to Norma Jeane’s tragic death, especially untreated in the 1960s, people living with DID are prone to depression, drug addictions, and suicide. If the Blonde movie portrays de Armas’ character as one with DID, viewers will likely see de Armas playing Norma Jeane and Monroe as separate, distinct characters, but, interestingly, the trailer may suggest another alter as well. In the trailer’s final moment, the film’s title, Blonde, appears in three different fonts—an elegant, polished script for the “B,” followed by a less-refined, bolder “lond,” and finally a chalk-looking, printed, and perhaps child-like “e.” Considering this, it could be that the Blonde movie will see Norma Jeane as the host (in this case the most substantial part of the title), with Monroe being the elegant alter (and also the alter that the world sees first, i.e. the first letter of the title), and a second alter—possibly a child—represented by the title’s “e.” Accordingly, viewers should prepare to see Monroe in a whole new way and de Armas in the role(s) of a lifetime. Source:

Tuesday, August 02, 2022

Paul Newman: A Life with Joanne Woodward

Some nights Paul Newman walked alone through the theater district, hoping and dreaming. "It was one of the greatest moments in the American theater," he later recalled. "Not just Tennessee Williams and Arthur Miller, but all sorts of emerging playwrights were turning out masterpieces. It was a dynamic time, and I wanted to be a part of it. I imagined it was like Elizabethan London at the time of Shakespeare." In September 1950 Newman had a brief flirtation with a young actress, Sally Kellerman, while his wife on Staten Island tended to their kids. 

Sally's big hopes rested on her auditioning for the Actors Studio. Three days before, the actor who was to appear with her came down with the flu. In desperation, Sally asked Paul to play a scene with her from Battle of Angels, an early play by Tennessee Williams. He readily agreed, wanting to enter the august precincts of the school that virtually every actor on Broadway had praised. Watching Paul emote were other actors climbing the ladder to fame, the attendants included Karl Malden, Rod Steiger, Eli Wallach, and Kim Stanley. Sitting by himself in the corner, and looking sullen, was an enigmatic, rather intense young actor, James Dean. Although many of these actors had already gone through their initial training, they'd shown up that particular afternoon because Lee Strasberg had announced a party for them. Paul was introduced to burly Rod Steiger, who seethed with intensity both on and off the stage. He had his Hollywood debut in the 1951 film Teresa, starring Pier Angeli, in which he'd played Angeli's boyfriend's pshychotherapist. "You've got something, kid," Steiger told Newman. "You just don't know how to express it yet."

Paul would later confess to Geraldine Page, "If I had known all those talented actors were sitting out there judging me, I would have passed out." Geraldine herself was on the dawn of one of her greatest successes. She was soon to win the role of the Southern spinster in Tennessee Williams's Summer and Smoke. At the time, Paul could not have imagined that one day he'd co-star with her in both the stage and later, in 1962, the movie version of another Tennessee Williams play, Sweet Bird of Youth. In addition, Paul was awed to meet Karl Malden, who didn't need acting lessons but often dropped into the Actors Studio. Of course, Paul recognized the brilliant actress walking toward him as Kim Stanley. Instead of reaching out to shake his extended hand, she kissed him on both cheeks and congratulated him on his performance in Battle of Angels. "She was one of the most intense women I'd ever met," Newman told Marlon Brando. 

"There was a turbulence in her face, like a woman who'd known trouble all her life." Weeks later, he'd tell Shelley Winters, "I think I kind of fell in love with Kim Stanley the first day I met her. I know it sounds like I had a schoolboy crush, but she made me feel that I'd married the wrong woman. Kim seemed to be the woman I'd been waiting for all my life. In many ways, Kim seems so interesting, but the real girl of my dreams is Joanne Woodward." The Actors Studio changed Paul's life and brought him into contact with some of the stellar lights in the American theater, especially the Method Acting visionary Lee Strasberg, director Elia Kazan, and producer Cheryl Crawford. "I have nothing but sympathy for you," Kazan told Paul. "In your case, you're probably hoping for a defining role like Marlon Brando had when he played Stanley Kowalski. Year after year I see actors living the illusion and growing older as their dreams don't come true. Don't let that happen to you. Take the work you're offered. Chances are you won't be as lucky as Brando. Become a working actor instead. But who knows? Maybe I'll be the guy who directs you in your defining role." 

In later life, in reference to his successes at the Actors Studio, Paul referred to it as a case of "Monkey see, monkey do. I just sat there and watched how actors like Julie Harris and Maureen Stapleton pulled it off. I had enough sense not to open my big mouth. In truth, I never became a true Method actor," Paul said. "I was more of a cerebral actor. Lee Strasberg taught me to draw upon memory of past experiences. Of course, that caused a lot of inner turmoil and pain in me. I came to realize I'd buried certain parts of my life. Going to the Actors Studio was like lying on a headshrinker's couch." In years to come, Paul would have only the highest praise for the Actors Studio, and he greatly contributed financially to its support. "I learned everything I know about acting at the Actors Studio." 

Even after he'd signed to join the Picnic cast, Paul continued to pursue additional work with his new MCA agent, John Foreman. Paul referred to his performances in teleplays as, "the best thrill in town, a totally new experience for me. I was able to play all kinds of roles, since I hadn't been categorized." In July of 1953, Foreman landed Paul a TV role in "The Bells of Damon." In September of the same year, a part in another teleplay, "One for the Road," would also be presented to him. One morning at the offices of MCA, the agent had an attractive young blonde-haired actress waiting outside to see him as well. As Foreman opened the door to his office to let Paul out, Joanne Woodward jumped up from her seat. Foreman introduced her to Paul, who apologized for "eating into your time. We got carried away." But there were no great sparks, no love at first sight.

"My introduction of these two was a historic moment in theater and film history," Foreman recalled. "And they couldn't have seemed less interested that day. Who could have predicted what was to come?" "I hated him on sight," Joanne Woodward later recalled. "He was pretty and neat like an Arrow Collar ad. He looked like a snobby college boy type in a seersucker suit, the kind insurance salesmen wore in summer making the rounds in my native Georgia." Like Paul, Joanne had been born a winter baby but not into freezing weather. When she entered the world on February 27, 1930, it was 70 degrees Fahrenheit in Thomasville, Georgia, a town that had once flourished as a winter resort, lying only ten miles north of the Florida border.

With her blonde hair and pixie face, she looked at the world through inquisitive green eyes. By the age of five, she had become an avid movie-goer. She told her parents, Wade Woodward and Elinor Trimmier Woodward, that she wanted to grow up to become an actress like Bette Davis and Joan Crawford. Ironically, at the time of her birth, her mother had wanted to name her after Joan Crawford, but after prolonged wheedling, her Southern relatives succeeded in getting the child named Joanne instead. When Elinor took Joanne to see Laurence Olivier playing the melancholy Heathcliff in Wuthering Heights, Joanne developed her first serious crush. That same year of 1939, when the newspapers announced that the premiere of Gone With the Wind was to be held in Atlanta, Joanne begged her mother to take her. In school it was revealed that Joanne had a high I.Q., and she excelled in her grades. Life seemed so happy in the Woodward household that she later said she was devastated when her parents announced that they were divorcing. "It took years for me to adjust to that," she said. Returning to Greenville, she appeared in a local production of Tennessee Williams's The Glass Menagerie-ironically, the same play in which Paul Newman had appeared during his own school years in Ohio. In 1987, Joanne would star in a film version of that same play, directed by none other than Paul himself.

Persuading her mother to let her go to New York, Joanne arrived there by train at the age of twenty-one. Until she got work in the theater, she planned to support herself on the sixty dollars a month her father gave her. Almost immediately she enrolled in the Neighborhood Playhouse, which, like the Actors Studio, trained the aspiring stars of tomorrow. At the Playhouse, she studied under the great dramatic coach, Sanford Meisner, who warned her to "get rid of that Southern drawl, or you'll appear only in plays by Tennessee Williams." Like Paul, Joanne signed with MCA, under whose management she pursued roles in live television dramas. She appeared in an original teleplay, Penny, which aired on June 9, 1952. Between jobs, Joanne liked to hang out with her fellow actors; she had long cups of coffee with Rod Steiger, a newly made friend of Paul's. As a result of attending a casting call, she was summoned to appear before Joshua Logan, who asked her to read a scene from the upcoming play he was directing, Picnic. Amazingly, he liked her reading and hired her to understudy both Janice Rule, playing Madge, and also Kim Stanley playing Millie, Madge's younger sister. 

When Joanne reported for work the next day, Logan introduced her to Paul. "We've met before," she said winking at Paul. As Picnic went on the road, opening in such cities as Cleveland, Joanne began to look at Paul with a different eye. "He wasn't conceited at all. In fact, I found him rather modest for such a good-looking man. He had a protective wall around him when I met him, but deep down he was a sensitive man with the soul of an artist. He just didn't want the world to know that." On the road, Paul began to date Joanne in a casual way. They often met for lunch in some dreary coffee shop or treated themselves to a late night dinner together after the evening's performance. Sometimes Paul didn't tell Joanne good night until two o'clock in the morning. During the run of Picnic, Paul had been seeing more of Joanne than his wife Jackie. Officially Paul assured fellow cast members that he and Joanne were "just friends." But no one, especially Joshua Logan or Kim Stanley, believed that. It was suspected that Paul had occasional sleepovers at Joanne's apartment on Fifty Sixth Street in New York. It was a five-flight walkup. He learned what breakfast at the Woodward household was like. It meant walking down to the street and purchasing two hot dogs from a street wagon vendor and carrying them back up those five flights.

When Rod Steiger learned about Jackie's second child, he said jokingly that Paul seemed to want to keep his wife "barefoot and pregnant," and stashed safely out of sight in Long Island while he pursued his stage career. Paul told Steiger that Jackie had "abandoned forever" her dream of becoming an actress. With Paul away from the house most of the time, Jackie had become a full-time housewife and mother. Word had gone out along Broadway and had even reached Hollywood that a hot new star was appearing on Broadway, taking over for Ralph Meeker in Picnic. "It didn't match the excitement that Brando had generated," Shelley Winters said, "during his performance in A Streetcar Named Desire, but the word was out to catch Newman's act." In the fall of 1953, just before one of his performances, during his second week as Hal in Picnic, he was alerted by Logan that both Frank Sinatra and Marilyn Monroe were in the audience. "I wasn't so afraid of Marilyn, but of Sinatra. For some reason, I thought he'd make fun of me. I knew he hated Method actors like Brando." Sinatra was still depressed and almost suicidal over the recent breakup of his marriage to Ava Gardner. But, in spite of Paul's fears about meeting him, Frank warmly extended his hand and congratulated Paul on his performance. "You're great, kid," Sinatra told him. "Originally Logan wanted Brando for the part. That jerk would have fucked it up big time." Paul accepted their invitation for an apres-theater dinner. Every head in the restaurant turned to watch Marilyn slither across the restaurant floor while Newman and Sinatra were virtually ignored.

Newman deciphered the real purpose of the visit. Marilyn was lobbying for the role of Madge in the movie version of Picnic. "Janice Rule would be okay," Marilyn said, "but she's got no sex appeal." Newman said that being in the presence of two fabled stars, and accepted by them as an equal, was going to his head even more than the wine. Elia Kazan called Karl Malden and asked him to coach Newman, grooming him for a screen test. Malden had already been promised the role of the priest in On the Waterfront and told Kazan: "I've got to have something really hot to show Sam Spiegel. You select the girl to work with Newman." Malden had been impressed with the acting of Joanne Woodward, and he asked her to rehearse with Newman. She gladly accepted. "There was a definite chemistry between the two," Malden recalled. He worked tirelessly with both Joanne and Paul until he felt they were "camera ready." Then he called Kazan. "I've found your stars," Malden said. "Newman and Woodward as a couple will sizzle on the screen. You can give them a screen test and shoot the results over to Spiegel." Kazan seemed delighted with the test and sent it to Spiegel. Weeks went by and there was no response from the producer.

"Paul was very nervous," Malden said. "He knew there was a lot at stake." When word came in from Spiegel, it was a devastating blow to Paul. The producer had promised the role of the young fighter Terry Malloy from Hoboken to Frank Sinatra, who was virtually claiming "native son status," being the most famous man to ever emerge from this then-grimy New Jersey port city. There were more surprises awaiting both Kazan and Newman. "Who knows why, but Marlon finally changed his mind without anyone twisting his arm," Malden recalled. "I had to wonder if all this talk about Paul Newman or Frank Sinatra playing the part lead Marlon to think it over. How could he pass up that part?" As for Joanne, perhaps she never thought that she had a serious chance to play the female lead. Instead, the role went to another similar blonde actress, Eva Marie Saint. When Brando finally accepted the role, Spiegel dropped Sinatra, who threatened to sue him. "The reason is money," Spiegel told Kazan. "I can get my investors to double the bankroll with Brando instead of Sinatra." While filming On the Waterfront, director Elia Kazan plotted his next feature film, East of Eden, eventually released in 1954. His fantasy cast included Montgomery Clift and Marlon Brando, playing brothers, even though physically the two actors did not look alike. Both Clift and Brando turned down the parts of a modern day Cain and Abel story, as portrayed in the best-selling John Steinbeck novel.

During the casting of On the Waterfront, Kazan had considered Paul Newman and Joanne Woodward for the leading players. Now, although he remained secretive about the casting of East of Eden, he once again considered Paul teaming with Joanne. But seemingly every other day, he thought James Dean and Julie Harris would bring more sensitivity to the roles. "Julie Harris has the part," Kazan explained to Newman. "Your girlfriend, Joanne Woodward, would have been terrific in the part, but Julie Harris fits more the part. By the way, I saw Julie yesterday at the Actors Studio. She said she adores you." "She's not my type," Paul said, putting down the phone. At that point in her life, Joanne still had not committed to Paul. "How could I?" she asked Rod Steiger. "He's still married with a wife that's pregnant again." 

Teleplays kept coming Joanne's way, and in 1954 she could be seen on TV in such dramas as The Dancers, Unequal Contest, Interlude, Five Star Final, Segment, Welcome Home, and Homecoming. It was her role in Interlude that brought her to the attention of Fox executive Buddy Adler. He promised Joanne a film contract, which was slow in coming. In letters, she kept Paul posted, promising that she'd soon be joining him in Hollywood. Paul was up for yet another movie role in 1954 during the casting of Battle Cry, based on the Leon Uris' novel of marines in World War II, which had a key role for the young soldier Danny Forrester. Bill Orr, the son-in-law of Jack Warner, conducted a joint screen test of both Paul and Joanne. "They came in with a preconceived idea of what they wanted to do in the scene," Orr said. "First they rolled around on a mattress and on the floor, and then they rolled around on a blanket. I had suggested to Warner that he give the role of Danny to James Dean. Dean could pull this one off. Newman came off as a jerk." Paul told his comrades at the Actors Studio, "Maybe I'll be more like Humphrey Bogart in Hollywood. He never sold out to any studio, and I won't either." 

Elia Kazan, the director of East of Eden, said that during the shooting, had to listen to James Dean's lovemaking sessions with Pier Angeli night after night. "My dressing room was across the hall from Dean's. I could actually hear them making love through the thin walls. Dean was very vocal. The sex would usually end in a big argument. After one of these blow-ups, Dean always got drunk. I don't know how I ever finished the picture with him." Whilst, Joanne Woodward flew into Los Angeles. She had signed a contract to film Interlude, starring Dick Powell, as part of a presentation on TV for the Four Star Playhouse. The American singer, producer, actor, and director, Dick Powell, was her co-star. He was famously married to June Allyson, MGM's fading sweetheart of the 1940s. Joanne knew Powell from his 1940s tough guy roles at RKO and less so for his 30s musicals, often starring Ruby Keeler, including 42nd Street. In Interlude, Joanne played a young woman in love with an older man, Dick Powell. Throughout the shoot, Powell had high praise for her acting talent. At the show's wrap, Powell sent a print of her work to Buddy Adler, who had only recently won an Oscar for the 1953 film From Here to Eternity, starring two of Paul's friends, Frank Sinatra and Montgomery Clift. At the time Adler previewed Joanne's work, he was hoping to replace Darryl F. Zanuck as head of production at Fox. Adler, like Powell, was so impressed with Joanne's screen work that he showed clips to Zanuck, who was still his boss. The cigar-chomping studio boss wasn't impressed. 

Zanuck said. "She won't put out from what I hear. Besides, I hear she dates only fags like that writer, Gore Vidal. Sign her up if you want to. But if she fucks up, you're to blame. Fox isn't into losing money." While performing on Broadway in The Desperate Hours, Paul accepted the lead in Philco Television Playhouse's The Death of Billy the Kid, which would be aired on July 24, 1954. The drama of William H. Bonney (Henry McCarthy was his real name) was re-written by Gore Vidal. At the time, newspapers were referring to Vidal as the "beau" of Joanne Woodward. Fred Kaplan, in his biography of Gore Vidal, quotes Joanne as saying, "I think we had gotten to that point had Gore said, `Let's get married,' I might very well have done so. Because I was very fond of him. Many people have had that sort of marriage. I can't imagine how long it would have lasted. I think I would have driven Gore crazy, probably." Both Paul and Joanne configured themselves as Gore's celebrity supporters, as did Eleanor Roosevelt, when he unsuccessfully ran for Congress in a Republican district in New York State in 1960.

Joanne played a pivotal role in the film noir, A Kiss Before Dying, released in 1956. It had a stellar cast which included Hollywood heartthrobs Robert Wagner and Jeffrey Hunter. Around that time, Kim Stanley told Paul he was right for the role of Bo Decker in Bus Stop, and she promised to secretly lobby for him. Brooks Clift, her secret lover, claimed she didn't lobby very hard, because she believed that Paul was too pretty and not rough enough around the edges. "He is just too polished a gentleman to play a hayseed like Bo Decker. Paul has 'class' written on his face." "As Picnic clearly showed, you don't have that wild streak in you to play Bo," William Inge said to a disappointed Paul. "I've got a god damn wild streak in me, and I'll fucking show you," he told Inge. "Paul sensed a strong rivality with Albert Salmi, who deliberately gave Paul bad advice," Steiger said, "although I don't know that for sure. Frankly, I think Paul wanted Albert Salmi to bomb in Philadelphia, the way that Cliff Robertson had bombed. If Salmi also were fired, then Paul could step into the role. He knew every line of the play." Brooks Clift claimed that Paul and Kim Stanley had another tiff when he learned that she didn't really back him for the role. Not knowing of Paul's own involvement with Kim Stanley, Albert told him of his private flirting with Stanley. This made Paul doubly jealous of his rival, although he managed to conceal that. Produced by Roger L. Stevens and Robert Whitehead, Bus Stop opened to rave reviews on May 2, 1955 at the Music Box Theater in New York. 

At this point, Albert Salmi had not yet learned of Paul's attempt to steal the role from him. Tenaciously Newman was still clinging to his dream of playing Bo. He was certain that a movie of Bus Stop would be made, and he told Steiger that "Salmi is not photogenic. His rough looks are okay on stage, but not in a close-up." The next morning, Newman encountered Rod Steiger at the Actors Studio and swore him to secrecy about what he was to tell him. "My dream is about to come true," he said. "Paul Newman and Marilyn Monroe starring in Bus Stop. I can see our names linked in movie marquees across the country." "Perhaps," Steiger said skeptically. "But you've got the billing wrong. Any actor will always have to play second fiddle to Marilyn." To Paul's surprise, he learned that Elvis Presley had appeared in the audience to see Bus Stop. "I heard through Logan that Elvis also wants to play Bo," Albert said. "If he's really serious, he'll get the part. Let's face it: Elvis Presley and Marilyn Monroe would be the box office attraction of the decade." Paul warned Albert "not to worry. There's no way in hell that Colonel Tom Parker will let his moneymaker do a straight dramatic part." When that news reached Paul, he called Logan and practically demanded that he get the part. "I can play Bo. Marilyn and I have great chemistry together. Besides, you owe me one." During an afternoon at the Actors Studio, Kim Stanley encountered Paul, "Sorry, honey, I've got bad news. Logan, that bastard, has cast Don Murray." 

"Murray's got no fire," Newman said. "He's a nice-looking boy-next-door type." Paul was crushed, but he tried to be gracious about his loss. "I'm the loser. I'm horribly disappointed. But Marilyn is such big box office, and she is right for the role. You and I have seen her act at the studio. We know how good she is. None of us believe that she's the lightweight her fans think of her." Even so, Don Murray got an Oscar nomination that year as Best Supporting Actor. In time, Albert Salmi learned about Paul's behind-the-scenes maneuvering to grab the role of Bo Decker from him. Although they would work together in Bang the Drum Slowly (1956), he never really forgave him.

During the shooting of Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid, there was tension in the Newman/Woodward marriage over his heavy drinking. "She's nitroglycerine and I'm diesel fuel," Paul explained to filmmaker George Roy Hill. There was more trouble awaiting Joanne in her marriage, widely interpreted at the time as the most enduring in Hollywood. That trouble arrived on the set of Butch and Sundance in a very shapely form. A spunky pin-up model turned into reporter, Nancy Bacon had posed for provocative pictures using the name "Buni." This brunette beauty had been hired to write a fluff piece on the production for Confidential magazine, her first interview was with Paul Newman himself. That "interview," on and off,  would last for eighteen months. According to Bacon, after Paul made love to her, he felt what he called his "heart attack time." Apparently, all that beer and Scotch drinking was often interfering with his sexual prowess.

News of the affair spread rapidly across the Hollywood grapevine, no doubt reaching Joanne. Paul's heavy drinking was problem enough for his marriage, but his affair may have proved too much for Joanne to handle. It was Joyce Haber, the gossip columnist, who first broke the news that the Newmans might be on the verge of breaking up. Writing for The Los Angeles Times, she reported that "the Newmans are living apart, according to friends, and will soon get a divorce," although she admitted that these were just "fascinating rumors, so far unchecked." To counter her revelation, the Newmans took out a $3,000 half-page ad in The Los Angeles Times. It read: "RECOGNIZING THE POWER OF THE PRESS, FEARING TO EMBARRASS AN AWESOME JOURNALIST, TERRIFIED TO DISAPPOINT MISS HABER AND HER READERS, WE WILL TRY TO ACCOMMODATE HER FASCINATING RUMORS BY BUSTING UP OUR MARRIAGE EVEN THOUGH WE STILL LIKE EACH OTHER." It was signed: "Joanne and Paul Newman." Eventually, Bacon decided that she didn't want to carry on with an affair going nowhere. She lied to Newman (who harbored a  deep sense of guilt), telling him that she was going to marry another man. He hardly reacted in front of her, but wished her all the best of luck. "I finally said to myself, I can do better. I told him, `You're always drunk, and you can't even make love'." Nancy Bacon reportedly had liaisons with other actors such as Errol Flynn and Rod Taylor. She alleged to have been a roommate of Marilyn Monroe and friends with Elizabeth Taylor, Jayne Mansfield, Judy Garland, and Sharon Tate. 

"For two people with almost nothing in common, we have an uncommonly good marriage," Paul told the tabloid press in London in 1969. As for Joanne, she seemed to be getting tired of all that talk about what a sex symbol and box office sensation Paul was. "Look, he's forty-four, got six children, and snores in bed. How can he be a sex symbol?" Newman was thrilled to learn he’d made Richard Nixon’s enemies list, supposedly because Nixon was jealous because Newman made the cover of Life magazine when Nixon hadn’t and because of Newman’s support for Paul McCloskey, a Nixon opponent in 1972. Reportedly Nixon once told John Foreman, “Newman is a first-rate actor even if he thinks I’m a lousy politician.” Although Newman was survived by five children and an older brother as well as his wife, he left most of his considerable fortune to Joanne—including significant real estate holdings and the Connecticut estate—and the rest to charity. Asked once how Joanne and he managed to stay together for so long, Newman replied, “I never ask my wife about my flaws. Instead I try to get her to ignore them and concentrate on my sense of humor. Joanne believes my character in a film we did together, Mr. and Mrs. Bridge comes closest to who I really am. I personally don’t think there’s one character who comes close to me, but I learned a long time ago not to disagree with her.” Not too long before his death, Newman was asked if he had any advice to give aspiring actors. “Study your craft and know what’s special about you. Find out what everyone does on a film set, ask questions and listen, which means don’t do things where you court celebrity, and give something positive back to our society.” For his very, very long life and highly successful career, that is exactly what Paul Newman did. Nothing more needs be said. —Paul Newman: A Life (2009) by Lawrence J. Quirk 

Saturday, July 30, 2022

Paul Newman: A Life, Moral Education

America's national epic is reflected poetically in Thornton Wilder’s Our Town, which won the Pulitzer Prize for Drama in 1938, and it was described by Edward Albee as "the greatest American play ever written." Our Town contains the snapshots of bygone days, cracker-barrel philosophies, homespun homilies, good-natured ironies, the hints of pain caused by epiphanies, and that climax which brings a welling to your eyes despite yourself. It contains us. The Stage Manager is knowing and vigilant. With his spectacles perched on the tip of his nose and a vaguely distracted air, he stills looks imposing. He appears to have lived every vicissitude of life. Such is his air of decency and authority that you find yourself hoping he deems you worthy. George Gibbs, the youthful hero, is an all-American boy. His heart is in the right place, even if he must occasionally be reminded of just where that place is. He’s handsome, and when caught up in the spell of love, he croons; you wouldn’t tune a piano to it, but he’s sincere. Later, when George escorts his sweetheart, Emily, to the drugstore for an ice cream soda, the Stage Manager takes on the persona of Mr. Morgan, who crafts the fountain treats for the youngsters. When it turns out that George has forgotten his pocket money at home, he refuses to accept the boy’s gold watch as collateral for the debt: “I’ll trust you ten years, George—not a day over.” You sense affection in the older man and, equally, respect in the younger; the mutuality is warming. The old man has acted for Michael Curtiz, Robert Wise, Richard Brooks, Robert Rossen, Sidney Lumet, Martin Scorsese. He has lent his voice to Doc Hudson in the Pixar movie "Cars," teaching Lightning McQueen that "life isn't about the destination but about the journey." 

You could think of him in the company of legends as Humphrey Bogart and James Stewart. The young man is making a name for himself, but he keeps getting compared to Marlon Brando and James Dean. The young man has just turned thirty, has been married for six years, and has three children. The older man is seventy-eight, with his forty-fifth anniversary coming up and five grown daughters and a pair of grandkids with whom to celebrate it. The old guy is serious, a World War II vet who attended Kenyon College and the Yale School of Drama on the GI Bill; he’s raised hundreds of millions of dollars for charity and served as president of the Actors Studio. The older man is Paul Newman, playing the Stage Manager in the Westport County Playhouse production of Our Town, at the Booth Theater on Broadway in October 2003. And the younger man, you know him too: Paul Newman, playing George Gibbs in the same play for NBC in September 1955.

For fifty years, on-screen and off, Paul Newman vividly embodied certain tendencies in the American male character: earnest and roguish, sly and determined, brave and vulnerable. He was equally at home on Hollywood soundstages, in theatrical workshops, in the pits of racetracks, and especially on the blessedly raucous fields and in the log cabins and swimming holes of the camps he built and maintained for seriously ill children. The world was his for the claiming—and he claimed only the bit that he felt was reasonably due to him, and he gave back more, by far, than he ever took. Newman had an intense discipline that demanded he earned, through sheer perseverance, a place alongside the Method gods Marlon Brando, Montgomery Clift, and James Dean. He was ultimately the one true superstar to emerge from the original Actors Studio generation, the most popular Stanislavskyan actor in American screen history.

Pauline Kael on her review of Hud (1963): "Paul Newman's range isn’t enormous; he can’t do classics. But when a role is right for him, he’s peerless. Newman imparts a simplicity and a boyish eagerness to his characters. We like them but we don’t look up to them. Even when he plays a bastard, he’s not a big bastard—only a callow selfish one, like Hud. He can play what he’s not—a dumb lout. But you don’t believe it when he plays someone more perverse or vicious, and the older he gets and the better you know him, the less you believe it. In his personal life, his likableness seems infectious and it's difficult not to like Paul Newman. But Hud is just possibly the most completely schizoid movie produced anywhere anytime. Hud is much of an anti-Western and I think it's also an anti-American film, yet so astutely made and such a mess that it is redeemed by its fundamental dishonesty."

As he would bemoan for the rest of his life, director Martin Ritt—along with screenwriters Irving Ravetch and Harriet Frank, Jr., adapting Larry McMurtry’s 1961 debut novel Horseman, Pass By—had intended to make a film taking the side of Homer Bannon and the impressionable Lon (Brandon De Wilde), Homer’s grandson and Hud’s nephew. “Hud was meant to be the ultimate heel, condemned to a life of loneliness and alcoholism for his harsh arrogance,” Ritt said at the American Film Institute in 1974. “If I’d been near as smart as I thought I was,” Ritt added, “I would have seen that Haight-Abshbury was right around the corner. The kids were very cynical; they were committed to their own appetites, and that was it.” “Little by little the look of the country changes because of the men we admire,” Homer says in decrying Hud, and the same is true of our cinema. Shades of gray were on their way in, and with Hud, Paul Newman’s cold blue eyes served as the headlights on the dark road to come. Source:

Paul Newman was visiting Maynard Morris, the MCA agent who got him a role for “Ice from Space” TV episode in 1952 (from the sci-fi show Tales of Tomorrow) and the agent’s next appointment was already waiting for him in the reception area, a young alluring actress named Joanne Woodward. Morris introduced the two by way of apologizing to her for running late. As Woodward later remembered it, “I had been making the rounds, and I was hot, sweaty, and my hair was all stringy. Morris introduced me to a pretty-looking young man in a seersucker suit, all pretty like an Arrow collar ad, and said, ‘This is Paul Newman,’ and I hated him at first sight, but he was so funny, he disarmed me.” Newman said his first reaction to her was to think: “Jeez, what an extraordinarily pretty girl.” Woodward had been spotted by a scout for MCA in a Neighborhood Playhouse showcase and brought into the agency as a client of a young agent named John Foreman, who was handling the television careers of new actors. He got her a series of roles on TV—in episodes of Robert Montgomery Presents, and Goodyear Television Playhouse; she played Ann Rutledge in a five-part series about Abraham Lincoln on Omnibus that required that she travel to Hollywood. “I didn’t have enough money to rent a car,” she later boasted. “Can you imagine being in California with no car?” In New York, Joanne had reportedly dated a lot of young men, even if she wasn’t exactly the type that was in vogue. 

She needn’t have bothered, though, for the sake of catching Newman’s eye. As he’d said, she’d struck him with her looks at their first meeting, and as they got to know each other during the rehearsals and downtime on Picnic, she came to seem to him an ideal girl. “She was so modern and eccentric,” he remembered. “I was shy, a bit conservative. It took me a long time to persuade her that I wasn’t as dull as I looked.” “Joanne and I have had difficult, mind-bending confrontations,” Newman told columnist Maureen Dowd many years later in The New York Times Magazine. “But we haven’t surrendered. I’ve packed up and left a few times, and then I realize I have no place to go, and I’m back in ten minutes.” “Being Mrs. Paul Newman has its good and bad days,” Joanne confessed to Good Housekeeping. “Obviously, since we’re still together, most of them have been good. But it hasn’t been easy, and I don’t think any valid relationship is.”

As with Rachel Rachel (1968), Paul Newman demonstrated his loyalty by committing himself to Joanne Woodward’s work. Almost everything he would produce or direct going forward would include her. And he learned to accommodate her interests and moods, encouraging her love of ballet by giving her gifts of ballet-inspired artworks, and by helping her to fund a dance/theatre company of her own. Theirs would often be praised as a fairy-tale marriage. And perhaps because it contained and overcame some dark and perilous episodes, it was worthy of the name. Playwright A. E. Hotchner, who knew Paul Newman longer and better than almost anybody, assesed: “Paul was an unadorned man. He was simple and direct and honest and off-center and mischievous and romantic and very smart… He was the same man in 2008 that he was in 1956—unchanged, despite all the honors and the movie stardom.” —Paul Newman: A Life (2009) by Shawn Levy

The researcher Susan Shimanoff of San Francisco State University discovered that regret was the most common negative emotion, and the second most common emotion of any kind – after love. However instructive past regrets may be toward making better decisions in the future, imagining that we could be happier with someone else can burden an otherwise reasonable life or romantic relationship. As the psychoanalyst Adam Phillips writes in Monogamy (1996): ‘We are prone to think, erroneously, there should be someone else who could love us more, understand us better, or make me feel more sexually alive.’ Looking for someone ‘better’ may be particularly tempting today: with Internet and advertising finding its way into every nook and cranny of our consciousness, we are invited to hate what we love, and envy that which is not worth pursuing. 

‘I don’t think individuals in the 1950s and ’60s tended to imagine a happier life with another romantic partner, at least in the sense that they could build a happier life with someone else,’ explained the historian Stephanie Coontz, author of A Strange Stirring: The Feminine Mystique and American Women at the Dawn of the 1960s (2011): ‘I think they imagined that everyone else was happy with their lives, and that there was something wrong with them not being happy. Because the sitcoms and magazine articles of that era portrayed successful families as ones that followed a formula, and it looked easy to replicate.’ Yet, the idea of pursuing happiness, however compelling, can have a very high costs for parents and children. In a follow-up study I did with Philip Cowan – professor of psychology at the University of Berkeley – we found that estranged parents who didn’t divorce were more likely to eventually reconcile with their children than those who did. In my clinical experience, divorce can increase the risk of a more conflicted or distant parent-adult child relationship in multiple ways. As Deborah Levy writes in her memoir, The Cost of Living (2018): ‘Chaos is supposed to be what we most fear but I have come to believe it might be what we most want.’

The sociologist Allison Pugh found that first marriages of ‘moderately educated’ women (those with some college education) are twice as likely to break up in the first five years as those of women with college degrees. Sometimes we are in the midst of depression and have gotten feedback from a therapist or others that our mood is distorting our view of our relationship. Alternatively, it's good to make attempts to communicate more effectively with your partner, and those attempts probably will be well-received and will be able to change the perceived problems. Sadly, some relationships have to be brought to the brink of a breakup to get the attention of the other person. E Mavis Hetherington’s study of divorce For Better or For Worse (2002) found that 25 per cent of men were completely surprised when their wives served them with divorce papers. 

One of Émile Durkheim’s central insights in the late 19th century: that in removing the rituals, traditions, roles and expectations that had guided desire for centuries, we also removed the ability to know that we had arrived and could stop trying. ‘As soon as there is nothing to stop us, we cannot stop ourselves,’ he wrote. ‘Beyond the pleasures that we have experienced, we imagine and yearn for others, and if one should happen to have more or less exhausted the possible, one dreams of the impossible – one thirsts for what is not.’ However constraining and outdated are social roles, they at least provided clarity of whether we should stop and smell the roses – or exhaust ourselves in the pursuit of the sweeter ones that might be just over the hill. So the endless pursuit of happiness can produce the opposite result: rather than leading us to a deeper, more meaningful life, we just end up getting one more thing we don’t really need. Source: