Books | November 3, 2021 2:14 pm

Paul Newman’s Secret Memoir Is Finally Being Published

The book, coming next fall, will mostly be compiled from audio recordings Newman made about his life

American actor Paul Newman (1925 - 2008) leaning on a sign which reads 'Stop on Light' at a film studio during the filming of 'The Silver Chalice', circa 1954
Paul Newman on the set of "The Silver Chalice," his movie debut in 1954.
Archive Photos/Getty

What else is there to say about Paul Newman? The late actor, race car driver and activist was an icon in his lifetime, and after he passed away in 2008 at the age of 83 it seems every facet of his life has been eulogized, from his versatile style to his watches to his non-toxic masculinity. Still, there’s one person who wants to get in a final word: Paul Newman himself.

As The New York Times reported on Wednesday, Newman recorded an oral history of his life and the transcripts are in the process of being compiled into a memoir that will be published by Knopf in fall 2022. 

The process of these audio recordings making their way out of obscurity and into book form, 14 years after Newman’s death, begins with the late screenwriter Stewart Stern, best known for writing Rebel Without a Cause. Stern, one of Newman’s best friends, spent several years interviewing the actor’s friends, relations and coworkers for “an oral history project.” Afterward, he interviewed Newman himself, and let the actor talk about his life at will. The upcoming book will mostly include the latter — about 80% memoir, according to the Times — but also some of the original interviews, as well as “previously unreleased family photographs.”

While there’s no mention of Newman himself wanting to turn these recordings into a book, the Times does say that he was “frustrated by all the unauthorized biographies and coverage of his life,” which convinced him to make these recordings. 

Publisher Knopf did offer some insight into what will be included in the book, from expected fare like his acting and racing to the darker, less discussed times, like his jealousy of James Dean and Marlon Brando, his own problems with drinking, and the drug and alcohol overdose of his son, Scott, who died at just 28. But the book is still in the editing process, with Newman’s daughters acting as the stewards of the transcripts.