“A man with no enemies is a man with no character.”
“You only grow when you are alone.”
“It’s more of a challenge.” (In response to being asked why he chose to identify with the Jewish side of his ethnicity)
“It’s like chasing a beautiful woman for 80 years. Finally, she relents and you say, ‘I’m terribly sorry. I’m tired.'” (After winning his first Oscar after so many losses)
“When you see the right thing to do, you’d better do it.”
“Men experience many passions in a lifetime. One passion drives away the one before it.”
“If you’re playing a poker game and you look around the table and and can’t tell who the sucker is, it’s you.”
“I had no natural gift to be anything — not an athlete, not an actor, not a writer, not a director, not a painter of garden porches — not anything. So I’ve worked really hard, because nothing ever came easily to me.”
“I’m a supporter of gay rights. And not a closet supporter either. From the time I was a kid, I have never been able to understand attacks upon the gay community. There are so many qualities that make up a human being… by the time I get through with all the things that I really admire about people, what they do with their private parts is probably so low on the list that it is irrelevant.”
“Who’s to say who’s an expert?”
“Acting isn’t really a creative profession. It’s an interpretative one.”
“Newman’s first law: It is useless to put on your brakes when you’re upside down.”
“Newman’s second law: Just when things look darkest, they go black.”
“We are such spendthrifts with our lives, the trick of living is to slip on and off the planet with the least fuss you can muster. I’m not running for sainthood. I just happen to think that in life we need to be a little like the farmer, who puts back into the soil what he takes out.”
“The problem with getting older is you still remember how things used to be.”
“I’ve repeatedly said that for people with as little in common as Joanne and myself, we have an uncommonly good marriage. We are actors. We make pictures and that’s about all we have in common. Maybe that’s enough. Wives shouldn’t feel obligated to accompany their husbands to a ball game; husbands do look a bit silly attending morning coffee breaks with the wives… Husbands and wives should have separate interests, cultivate different sets of friends and not impose on the other… You can’t spend a lifetime breathing down each other’s necks.”
“Show me a good loser and I will show you a loser.”
“Every time I get a script it’s a matter of trying to know what I could do with it. I see colors, imagery. It has to have a smell. It’s like falling in love. You can’t give a reason why.”
“I’d like to be remembered as a guy who tried – who tried to be part of his times, tried to help people communicate with one another, tried to find some decency in his own life, tried to extend himself as a human being. Someone who isn’t complacent, who doesn’t cop out.”
Paul Newman was born on this day in 1925. If I could live the life of anyone in the past century, I’d probably go with Newman’s.
If you want to know more, pick up a copy of Shawn Levy’s biography Paul Newman: A Life. If you want to see more, flip through Paul Newman: A Life in Pictures.
Despite his Oscar, Emmy, and six Golden Globes, Newman claimed that his greatest accomplishment was being number nineteen on Richard Nixon’s enemies list. He garnered this “accolade” due to his support for Eugene McCarthy, for whom he campaigned in 1968. Newman was also a vocal and highly visible opponent of the Vietnam War. In the short video below, you can hear him forcefully criticizing both the war and the American public’s insulation from its human toll.