Paul Newman: the definition of a leading man


This article had a profound effect on me in those days when I was young and dreaming about what kind of man I wanted to marry when I grew up, and of course I wanted to grow up and marry Paul Newman. What I always loved best about Paul Newman—and I loved many things—was how much, how palpably, he loved Joanne Woodward. That he was always quick to point out how different they were, and how smart she was, and seemed so genuinely dazzled and amazed by her, said everything about the man he was.

Just for fun—or for argument's sake—let's build ourselves a man's man. The kind of guy, it is often heard, they don't make anymore. Here's one set of specs:

He's got to have balls, for starters. He's got to be able to look physical danger dead in the eye. To this degree, he's got to be just a little bit crazy.

He's got to be loyal. To a code, a craft.

And loyal, too, to the woman he loves. No matter that it isn't always perfect. The fact remains that she is his very best friend and teacher, which he isn't too butch to admit.

He's got to be able to say what he thinks, and when he doesn't think anything, to say that, or keep his mouth shut.

He's got to know the things that men are supposed to know; that is, what a slip differential is and the like.

And he's got to know the things that men aren't supposed to know; that is, the names of flowers and the mysteries that pass between most grown-up women and their fathers.

[ "The Leading Man: Paul Newman -- Him with His Foot to the Floor," by Lee Eisenberg, Esquire, June 1988 ]