I am writing this post for my good friend Cassandra because I promised her I would and because the screen shot on her phone (last time I checked) was Paul, not her boyfriend Jack (although she adores Jack). While Paul was certainly a style icon, with him it was never about the clothes, which is why in most of the photos I chose he is half naked, (you’re welcome Cassandra).
Paul was born on January 26th, 1925 in Cleveland, Ohio and had what appears to have been a pretty ordinary childhood. He got kicked out of Ohio University for unruly behavior (is anyone surprised?) and served three years in the Navy. He did eventually graduate and went on to attend Yale’s School of Drama which is where he was spotted by agents who invited him to come to New York to try his hand at acting and the rest was history.
When he got his big break in 1953—an understudy role in the Broadway play Picnic, Paul was married with two children and a third on the way. What he hadn’t anticipated was meeting the love of his life. He and Joanne Woodward, who was also an understudy, felt an instant connection, but it wasn’t until 1958 when he was cast opposite her in The Long, Hot Summer that Paul finally realized they were meant to be together. He asked his wife for a divorce and married Joanne that same year. They lived happily ever after until his death in 2008.
Paul Newman played many anti-hero and rebel roles for which you couldn’t help but love him and was an actor that never looked like he was acting on screen. Perhaps this ease and seeming detachment is what makes me think that he didn’t think too much about fashion (which is its own kind of style). Unlike James Dean who looked good in anything, especially if it looked worn, rumpled or carelessly thrown on, Paul looked best in, well nothing, because one was naturally inclined to just look past what he was wearing and be drawn directly into those famously sparkling blue eyes.