Page last updated at 17:32 GMT, Saturday, 27 September 2008 18:32 UK

Paul Newman: In his own words

Screen legend Paul Newman, who has died at the age of 83, was one of the most quotable actors in Hollywood.

Here are a selection of his most memorable quips and anecdotes.


Paul Newman
Newman began his film career in the 1950s
I'm basically an irresponsible person, and I wanted to find a way of life that allowed me to continue in my irresponsibility.

If you're lucky enough to do that, there's a kind of genius in it. If you fail, of course, it's disastrous.

I've been lucky, but now it looks like some kind of grand design.

I was terrorised by the emotional requirements of being an actor. Acting is like letting your pants down; you're exposed.

I was lucky to survive my first film, The Silver Chalice. God, what a dog, the worst film of the '50s.

I cannot bear to look at a film that I made before 1990. Maybe 1985. There's no sense even trying to explain it. I really just can't watch myself. I see all the machinery at work and it just drives me nuts, so I don't look at anything.


I've been saying I'll retire for 10 years, so I can't depend on that any more. I've said that I was going to abandon everything, and I've abandoned nothing.

I'm not able to work any more... at the level that I would want to. You start to lose your memory, you start to lose your confidence, you start to lose your invention. So I think that's pretty much a closed book for me.


It's like chasing a beautiful woman for 80 years. Finally, she relents and you say: 'I'm terribly sorry. I'm tired'.


I was always a character actor. I just looked like Little Red Riding Hood.

Joanne Woodward and Paul Newman
The couple's marriage lasted 50 years

I don't like to discuss my marriage, but I will tell you something which may sound corny but which happens to be true: I have steak at home, why should I go out for hamburger?

People stay married because they want to, not because the doors are locked.

So you wound up with Apollo / If he's sometimes hard to swallow... Use this.
Inscription on sherry glass given to his wife, Joanne Woodward.


It started as a joke, and it just got out of control.

When I realized I was going to have to be a whore, to put my face on the label, I decided that the only way I could do it was to give away all the money we make. Over the years, that ethical stance has given us a 30 per cent boost. One in three customers buys my products because all the profits go to good causes and the rest buy the stuff because it is good.


The best letter I've gotten in my whole life was from a lady who wrote: 'I wish you could do something about the neck of your salad dressing bottle. It pours too freely.'

She wrote: 'I am going with this guy and he is married. And we don't get a chance to see each other very often, except maybe every couple of weeks in a hotel. And when I'm pouring the salad dressing, it pours out so fast that it gets all over his chest. Couldn't you have a squeeze bottle or something?'

I read this thing and thought, 'My God, America has come to this?'


Paulk Newman
The actor was a keen racing driver
I'm a very competitive person. I always have been. And it's hard to be competitive about something as amorphous as acting.

But you can be competitive on the track, because the rules are very simple and the declaration of the winner is very concise.


I'm not a professional philanthropist, and I'm not running for sainthood. I just happen to think that in life we need to be a little like the farmer who puts back into the soil what he takes out.

The concept that a person who has a lot holds his hand out to someone who has less, or someone who isn't hurting holds his hand out to someone who is, is simply a human trait that has nothing to do with celebrity.


I have never been able to understand attacks upon the gay community. There are so many qualities that make up a human being... by the time I get through with all the things that I really admire about people, what they do with their private parts is probably so low on the list that it is irrelevant.


If you're playing a poker game and you look around the table and can't tell who the sucker is, it's you!


I'd like to be remembered as a guy who tried tried to be part of his times, tried to help people communicate with one another, tried to find some decency in his own life, tried to extend himself as a human being. Someone who isn't complacent, who doesn't cop out.

I picture my epitaph: 'Here lies Paul Newman, who died a failure because his eyes turned brown.'

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