7 Surprising Facts About the Late, Great Paul Newman

©Universal Pictures

Paul Newman is a goddamn legend in my book.

First of all, Slap Shot is one of the greatest sports movies of all time. And it easily the greatest hockey movie ever made. And that’s just the tip of the iceberg.

Here’s a brief rundown of just some of his iconic films: Cool Hand Luke, The Hustler, The Sting, Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid, Road to Perdition, and many, many more.

Here are 7 facts about the man, the myth, the legend!

1. The gridiron.

Newman originally wanted to be a professional football player. He played in high school and got a football scholarship to play at Kenyon College in Ohio.

He was kicked off of his college team for fighting and then became interested in the theater. He ended up going to the Yale School of Drama and then moved to New York to be a full-time actor.

2. Not a fan…

Newman thought his first film role was the worst movie he ever appeared in. His first starring role came in 1954’s The Silver Chalice and Newman thought the film was just terrible.

Good thing he moved on past that turkey…

3. That’s not me…

Early in his career, Newman was commonly mistaken for actor Marlon Brando from people on the street.

Instead of correcting them, Newman would sign autographs that read “Best Wishes, Marlon Brando.”

4. A real prankster.

The actor liked to play practical jokes and he enjoyed faking his own death. During the making of Exodus, Newman tossed a dummy off of a building and director Otto Preminger believed it was Newman. He repeated this prank during the making of The Mackintosh Man for director John Huston as well.

While making Slap Shot, Newman scared the hell out of director George Roy Hill by climbing behind the wheel of a wrecked car and acting like he had been involved in an accident.

5. Introduction to racing.

Newman was a well-known fan of car racing and his introduction to the sport came when he starred in the 1969 movie Winning. He started racing as an amate*r in 1972 and he won his first race at the professional level in 1982.

He continued to drive all the way up until 2005. He said, “I’ll always talk about racing because the people are interesting and fun, the sport is a lot more exciting than anything else I do, and nobody cares that I’m an actor. I wish I could spend all my time at the racetrack.”

6. Nixon was not a fan.


As we all know now, President Richard Nixon was incredibly paranoid and liked to keep tabs on people he considered enemies. Paul Newman made Nixon’s list because he supported candidate Hubert Humphrey in the 1968 election and he was a highly vocal critic of the Vietnam War.

Newman found out that Nixon compiled a list of his personal enemies in 1971.

The actor later got a copy of the list and had it framed.

7. A stand-up guy. 

During the making of the 1998 film Twilight, Newman discovered that he and Gene Hackman were making a lot more money than their c0-star Susan Sarandon, who was receiving equal billing with the two actors.

Newman offered to give up part of his salary to make things equal for Sarandon.

What’s your favorite Paul Newman movie?

Please share with us in the comments!