Thursday, May 7, 2009

Sorry, Shawn...have to call Bullshit on that...

Ray Price over on Movie City News has an interview with Oregonian film critic Shawn Levy and a conversation about Levy's new book, the unimaginatively titled, Paul Newman: A Life. Here's an excerpt from that interview:
PRIDE: How tall was Newman? Is it just the bad internets having a field day lately with varying estimates?

LEVY: I think that in the fullness of his time he stood about five ten-and-a-half or a smidge taller. But by the time the N. Y. Post started taking potshots at him for being short, he was nearing 60 and probably had ceded an inch or two to age.

I seriously have to question how accurate of a job Levy did on this biography when he's willing to perpetuate a stupid lie about an actor's height, especially since I have personal knowledge of this. I encountered Paul Newman in 1989 when he was filming Mr and Mrs Bridge in Kansas City. I was on my way to work one afternoon and was walking the three blocks from my bus stop to the downtown hotel I worked at, when I noticed a lot of big trucks and trailers parked near an old hotel; obviously, they were filming Bridge in the area, something that had been going on for several weeks at this point and a sight I was used to seeing because I had already run across the trucks not far from my apartment. That day, as I was hurrying to work, I didn't pay much attention to the film trucks. There was little obvious activity going on at street level, but as I got closer to the trucks I did notice a solitary man, in a 1940's period suit, walking towards me in the general direction of some parked trailers. Obviously it was an actor in the film and I thought, "Cool, I'm getting to see some behind the scenes stuff" and as we passed each other we acknowledged each other and did the nodded head/slight smile thing and I walked about another 10 feet and realized that I had just passed by Paul Newman. (the same thing happened to me in NYC when I walked by Paul Simon, who's notoriously short). I immediately spun around to gawk at him as he entered a trailer, and I gaily skipped the remaining two blocks to work to delightedly tell my co-workers that I had just had a Newman sighting!

"Ohmigod! I just encountered Paul Newman on the street!" were the first words out of mouth, and the second sentence I excitedly uttered were words along the line of: "And he's fuckin' tiny! Like 5'7" at best, and maybe 140 pounds!", which surprised no one since this was a downtown hotel and we were used to seeing celebrities in person and the inevitable disappointment of meeting celebrities in person and discovering they are ususlly smaller, duller and surlier in person than they are on your tv or movie screen. And, I should point out, my perception of Mr Newman's height was based on the fact we walked right past each other, and I'm not quite 5.10 (5' 9" 3/4)and Mr Newman was at least a couple inches shorter than me. That was in 1989 when Newman was about it really common for adult men to shrink three inches by their mid-sixties?

So, judging by Shawn Levy's dorky defense of his dead biography subjects height, I'm guessing that Levy doesn't venture much into the "Paul Newman was gay/bi" controversy in his book...

Oh, and go here for a hilarious discussion of Newman's height...and other celebrities as well including the not quite 5'10 Robert Redford.

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