Westport remembers Paul Newman


Photo by Maddie Bell '23

Melissa Newman speaks about her father’s new memoir on Nov. 20 at the Westport Country Playhouse. Event coordinators hand out a copy of the book to each attendee while they wait for the talk to begin.

Melissa Newman discussed her father’s new memoir at the Westport Country Playhouse on Sunday, Nov. 20.

Her father, Paul Newman, resided in Westport, Connecticut. Famous for his lively blue eyes and acting, Newman won three Golden Globe Awards, an Academy Award and one Emmy according to IMDb. Some of his most popular films include classics such as “The Sting” and voiceovers in newer movies like the “Cars” series. He was also an entrepreneur and philanthropist, beginning Newman’s Own and the Hole in the Wall Gang Camp. CNN reported Newman’s philanthropy work as being his favorite line of work, even more than acting. To this day, Paul Newman is a household name in Westport, for many recall seeing him around town and in the surrounding Fairfield County area. 

 In an event sponsored by Barrett Bookstore, Melissa, alongside Anne Keefe, recalled childhood memories from growing up in Westport with Newman, her parents’ relationship and answered audience questions. 

The Playhouse is a staple to the Westport community: a place to honor Paul Newman and his wife, as well as somewhere to enjoy theater. Even Westport’s school system utilizes the playhouse, offering it as a destination for field trips. 

“The Extraordinary Life of an Ordinary Man: A Memoir” is Paul Newman’s latest book. His daughter, Melissa, helped compose this book from thousands of pages of transcripts. Addiction, relationships, childhood trauma and personal life amidst celebrity spotlight are all discussed in Newman’s book. 

The Playhouse is a staple to the Westport community: a place to honor Paul Newman and his wife, as well as somewhere to enjoy theater.

— Maddie Bell '23

Keefe is the Associate Artist at the Westport Country Playhouse. For years, she worked alongside Newman and his wife, Joanne Woodward, as they brought Hollywood acting to Westport. She has also participated in eight Playhouse engagements according to the Playhouse itself. During the event, Keefe guided the conversation and reflected on what she learned from working with the famous actors.

In an interview with Melissa Newman after the event, she shared what the book would mean to her father. Paul Newman would compare books to paintings, each voice similar to a splash of a different color. In short, he would have wanted this book to act as an opportunity for readers to define him from their own, educated understanding.  

“You think that you are emanating a certain kind of light but then you realize that the light you think you’re emanating isn’t the light that others are seeing,” Newman recalled her father saying. “This illustrates the idea that there is no truth, which makes for good theater.”