In the 1980s, Paul Newman began working with screenwriter Stewart Stern to compose an oral history about the actor’s life, from his difficult upbringing to his Hollywood career to his passions for racing and philanthropy. But the project remained incomplete after Newman’s death in 2008—until the arrival of The Extraordinary Life of an Ordinary Man (9 hours).
Newman’s story is raw, unfiltered and brutal. He explains that his acting career originated from a “hunch,” and fortunately for us, it’s a hunch that paid off, yielding memorable roles in such movies as Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid, The Sting, Cool Hand Luke and The Color of Money (for which he won an Academy Award). But at times Newman considered himself to be a great failure as a father, husband and actor, and he credits much of his success to his wife, Joanne Woodward.
The audiobook is superbly narrated by actor Jeff Daniels, whose heartfelt passion and sincerity come through loud and clear. The voices of family and peers, including Newman’s daughters Melissa Newman and Clea Newman Soderlund, fill in the rest of the story.