Paul Newman

501207755 636b66b921 m Paul Newman
by wallyg

Early life

Newman was born in Shaker Heights, Ohio (a suburb of Cleveland), the son of Theresa (ne Fetzer or Fetsko; Slovak: Terzia Feckov) and Arthur Samuel Newman, who ran a profitable sporting goods store. Newman’s father was Jewish, the son of immigrants from Poland and Hungary; Newman’s mother, who practiced Christian Science, was born to a Slovak Roman Catholic family at Ptiie (formerly Pticsie) in the former Austriaungary (now in Slovakia). Newman had no religion as an adult, but described himself as “a Jew”, stating that “it’s more of a challenge”. Newman’s mother worked in his father’s store, while raising Paul and his brother, Arthur, who later became a producer and production manager.

Newman showed an early interest in the theater, which his mother encouraged. At the age of seven, he made his acting debut, playing the court jester in a school production of Robin Hood. Graduating from Shaker Heights High School in 1943, he briefly attended Ohio University in Athens, Ohio, where he was initiated into the Phi Kappa Tau fraternity.

Military service

Newman served in the United States Navy in World War II in the Pacific theater. Newman enrolled in the Navy V-12 program at Ohio University, hoping to be accepted for pilot training, but was dropped when it was learned he was color blind. He was sent instead to boot camp and then received further training as a radioman and gunner. Qualifying as a rear-seat radioman and gunner in torpedo bombers, in 1944, Aviation Radioman Third Class Newman was sent to Barber’s Point, Hawaii. He was subsequently assigned to Pacific-based replacement torpedo squadrons (VT-98, VT-99, and VT-100). These torpedo squadrons were responsible primarily for training replacement pilots and combat air crewmen, placing particular importance on carrier landings.

He later flew from aircraft carriers as a turret gunner in an Avenger torpedo bomber. As a radioman-gunner, he served aboard the USS Bunker Hill during the Battle of Okinawa in the spring of 1945. He was ordered to the ship with a draft of replacements shortly before the Okinawa campaign, but by a fluke of war, was held back because his pilot had an ear infection. The rest of his detail died.

After the war, he completed his degree at Kenyon College in Gambier, Ohio, graduating in 1949. Newman later studied Drama at Yale University, graduating in 1954, and later studying under Lee Strasberg at the Actors’ Studio in New York City.

Oscar Levant wrote that Newman initially was hesitant to leave New York for Hollywood: “Too close to the cake,” he reported him saying, “Also, no place to study.”

Career

Early work

Newman made his Broadway theater debut in the original production of William Inge’s Picnic with Kim Stanley. He later appeared in the original Broadway productions of The Desperate Hours and Sweet Bird of Youth with Geraldine Page. He would later star in the film version of Sweet Bird of Youth, which also starred Page.

His first movie for Hollywood was The Silver Chalice (1954), followed by acclaimed roles in Somebody Up There Likes Me (1956), as boxer Rocky Graziano; Cat on a Hot Tin Roof (1958), opposite Elizabeth Taylor; and The Young Philadelphians (1959), with Barbara Rush and Robert Vaughn. But, predating all of these above was a small but notable part in an August 8, 1952 episode of the science fiction TV series Tales of Tomorrow entitled “Ice from Space”, in which he played Sergeant Wilson, his first credited TV or film appearance.

In February 1954, Newman appeared in a screen test with James Dean, directed by Gjon Mili, for East of Eden (1955). Newman was testing for the role of Aron Trask, Dean for the role of Aron’s fraternal twin brother Cal. Dean won his part, but Newman lost out to Richard Davalos. The same year, Newman co-starred with Eva Marie Saint and Frank Sinatra in a live

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