May 18, 2009 12:00 PM

PAUL NEWMAN: A LIFE

by Shawn Levy |

REVIEWED BY JUDITH NEWMAN

BIOGRAPHY

Paul Newman was everything you want a star to be: a consummate actor, a man’s man with an enviable home life, a philanthropist. Oh, and did we mention the eyes? In this biography, film critic Levy (who never spoke to his subject) gives a flowery but very readable accounting of Newman’s life. He reveals the chinks (an affair with a journalist during Butch Cassidy, his status as a “functioning alcoholic”) while still deeply appreciating the man. Once dismissed as a pretty boy, Newman became respected as much for his acting as his star power, giving some of his best performances (Mr. & Mrs. Bridge, Nobody’s Fool) at an age when most legends were on the celeb golf circuit. Through it all he kept a perspective on fame that’s almost absent today. Here was a man both great and good, yet with a humility that led sportswriter Jim Murray to observe, “He’s probably the only guy in America who doesn’t want to be Paul Newman.”

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