Book Review: ‘Paul Newman: Blue-Eyed Cool,’ a Hollywood Legend in Photos

Book Review: ‘Paul Newman: Blue-Eyed Cool,’ a Hollywood Legend in Photos

Cool Hand Luke, Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid, Road to Perdition, The Hustler, Cat on a Hot Tin Roof and so many other films became the legacy of one of America’s most beloved actors.

In each film, acting legend Paul Newman brought poise, class, style, humor and a touch of rebelliousness to the screen, delighting his fans since his early days on live television, Broadway and his first film in 1954. But perhaps even more memorable than his legendary career, Newman had a feature that set him apart from the rest and captured the hearts of America: his striking (albeit color-blind) baby-blue eyes.

Throughout his extensive career, Newman was photographed a great deal, and James Clarke’s newest book, Paul Newman: Blue-Eyed Cool, features the photograph collections of six top celebrity photographers who each captured the essence of Newman’s charm and charisma, both on- and off-screen, over time.

Paul Newman photographed by Milton Greene in the mid-1970s.
Milton Greene

“You know, I’ve loved movies and reading about movies since I was kid and so any opportunity to contribute in some small part to all of that is such a privilege,” the book’s author, James Clarke, told Newsweek. “With this particular book, the first thing I thought, actually, was this: ‘My dad will really love this book’ as my dad has been a Paul Newman fan forever.”

The book, destined to be a breathtaking staple in any film enthusiast’s home, is split into six sections, with a distinct focus on the perspective of each photographer who photographed Newman. Paired with raw and unvarnished commentary from the photographers themselves, Newman’s incomparable authenticity and appealing persona bleed through each page.

I’d like to be remembered as a guy who tried—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.”

Paul Newman

For photographer Milton Greene, who was asked to take photos of Newman for Look, Life and People magazines starting in the 1960s, Newman was a close friend as well as a subject. Greene’s photographs depict Newman and his longtime love, Joanne Woodward, in both studio shoots and perfectly framed candids.

Milton’s son, Joshua Greene, recalls that Newman was an avid pool player.

“Some of my all-time favorite memories as a child growing up was playing pool. Milton always had a pool table, as did Newman. Paul was a superb pool player. Keep in mind that he starred in The Hustler in 1961 with Jackie Gleason playing Minnesota Fats,” Joshua told Newsweek. “As a matter of fact, there were stories about Paul, when on location filming, finding himself at a small-town pool hall where the wager would be to vote Democratic on election night. Always the Hustler.”

Black-and-white photographs of the actor playing pool that were taken in 1968 are some of Joshua’s favorite shots that his father Milton captured.

Paul Newman bends over a pool table in a black and white shot featured in the book, “Paul Newman: Blue-Eyed Cool.”
Milton Greene

For photographer Al Satterwhite, it was the shots he took of Newman racing that are his favorite—besides acting, Newman was an avid car racer and auto enthusiast.

“Always a difficult decision! This shows Paul in his element—RACING!” Satterwhite told Newsweek. “Something that he truly loved and excelled at.”

The photograph shows Newman on the Bonneville Salt Flats in Utah in 1974, his sunglasses hanging on his shirt collar and that famously winning grin on his face.

Paul Newman as photographed by Al Satterwhite in 1974.
Al Satterwhite

Blue-Eyed Cool showcases stunning photos of an iconic actor that keep Newman’s legacy alive, a task that author Clarke said appealed to him right away.

“Something that we’ve really tried to celebrate in the book is Newman’s theater background, his film work and something of his life away from movies,” said Clarke. “It’s also important to make the point that the book is as much a celebration of several [of] the photographers with whom Paul Newman repeatedly worked. They were able to create a range of striking portraits and posed images, but what I am always most fascinated by are the images taken that are that bit more candid. The book has a lot of these kinds of images.”

“For me, though, what shines through most in so many of the photographs and the recollections that accompany them is a great focus and concentration on Newman’s part to do and to be the very best that was possible,” he added.

When asked what the book meant to him, Clarke said, “We just want the book to be a real celebration of such a vital actor and of the photographers that contributed so much to Newman’s place in movie lovers’ hearts.”

Paul Newman: Blue-Eyed Cool is published by ACC Art Books and is available for purchase now.

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