Tuesday, May 13, 2014

Paul Newman the Bad Father

I have a lot of newspaper articles that I keep to read at a later date, and now that I am retired I now have time to sort them out and I start with BAD PARENTING....or sad stories of children from famous parents who lead neglected and sad lives, they are the same age as my childred when they died......

The first story is Scott, the son of Paul Newman who is such a famous, handsome, well-known and well acclaimed actor, you would not know he harboured a sad secret and battled his own demons....

Scott died aged 28, unknown, unaccomplished, unloved, unneeded and unwanted....!topic/alt.obituaries/BbWcMWjajAI

"I don't think I ever hugged Scott or patted him on his arm or back or 
rump - the things fathers do. I never talked to him about his being an 
actor - can you imagine?"

Paul Newman: piercing blue eyes

Paul Newman: the bad father

On the morning of November 21, 1978, I sat down to breakfast, opened The
New York Times and recoiled at this terrible headline: "Paul Newman's
son, 28, dies of a drug overdose". It reported that Scott Newman had
died in a Los Angeles hotel room of an accidental overdose of alcohol
and tranquillisers.
According to the article he had been taking pain pills for injuries
sustained in a motorcycle accident and the police presumed that,
combined with alcohol, these had caused his death.
The article described Scott as an actor, stuntman and nightclub singer
and said that his mother was Paul Newman's first wife, Jackie Witte.
Paul had been a friend for more than 20 years. I had known Scott since
he was a boy. Both had talked to me about the problems between them. I
debated whether to call Paul. What was there to say? But I had to.
I waited a long time for him to come to the phone. "Hotchnik," he said.
His voice was thick and hoarse.
There was an interminable pause. Paul was by nature a slow responder,
but this was different; he was dealing with an emotion he probably had
never felt before. Finally he said, "It's a hurt beyond tears."
The guilt would stay with him for the rest of his life. "How do you make
amends for something you can't make amends for?" he asked when he at
last talked about it all.
During lunch breaks we usually went to our diner. Most of the time a
lovely young actress named Joanne Woodward came to join us. It was
obvious they were very much in love. They were a beautiful couple and
they illuminated the booth. Paul was still married - and had not only a
son but two daughters - yet it was apparent that in due time his entente
with Joanne would replace the marriage.
After Paul got divorced, Scott lived in Los Angeles with his mother and
sisters and I didn't meet him until he was 12 or 13. He was visiting his
father in Westport, Connecticut, where I also lived.
When I arrived, Scott was performing nimbly on a trampoline rigged up on
the big lawn. He was a handsome boy, big for his age, with a ready smile
and an easygoing personality. He said that some day he hoped to do "the
real stuff on the high trapeze with Ringling Brothers".
When Paul, who had been stoking his charcoal grill, came over to join
us, Scott seemed to quieten down and become deferential. Paul said some
good things about his trampolining but they didn't seem comfortable with
each other.
I didn't see him again until he was in his late teens. He was 6ft tall,
taller and more muscular than Paul. He had had a very rocky teenage
passage, getting dismissed from one prep school after another for
"detrimental behaviour", including insubordination, inattention to his
studies and use of drugs and alcohol.
Paul had ascended to the heights of superstardom and being his son was
proving more than Scott could handle. He was handsome but did not have
his father's classic handsomeness.
I didn't see much of Paul during this period. He was letting his extreme
popularity get in the way. He was drinking too much and participating in
a freewheeling life without boundaries.
Paul Newman's hidden heartache: How the Hollywood giant never got over his only son's drugs overdose death

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Scott dropped out of college after two years to work on small movie
assignments, mostly stunts on Paul's films. He made 500 parachute jumps
to get certified as an instructor, then bummed around, working in
construction, driving a ski resort bus, waiting tables, all the while
refusing to ask his father for money or for any real help in getting
acting lessons, his real ambition.
Paul did help him in other ways. George Roy Hill was directing The Great
Waldo Pepper (Paul had turned down the lead, which went to Robert
Redford), and at Paul's request Scott - by then 23 - was given a small
part, although George refused Scott's entreaty to let him do stunts on
the wings of the biplane used in the film.
Scott got into trouble on the way to the film's Texas location. Staying
overnight in Bridgeport, California, he had a lot to drink at a bar and
when the barman shut him down, Scott staggered off belligerently and
slashed the tyres of a school bus that was parked down the street while
boisterously singing his college anthem.
When sheriff's deputies appeared, he tried to fight them off, but they
succeeded in handcuffing him and getting him into the back seat of the
squad car. While en route to the police station, Scott was able to raise
his legs and kick the driver in the back of the head with his heavy
boot, causing the car to skid off the road.
A while later Paul was in Hollywood co-starring with Steve McQueen in
The Towering Inferno, the disaster movie. Visiting him on the set, I
found him sitting alone off camera, dressed in torn, smoke-stained
clothes. He was subdued, his natural energy diluted.
"First time I fell for the goddamn numbers," he muttered. "I did this
turkey for a million and 10% of the gross, but it's the first and last
time, I swear. You want to know what chicken shit goes on? McQueen
actually made a count of our lines of dialogue and when he found out I
had 20 lines more than he did, he made the producer fatten up his part
so he had the same number as me." Paul's towering take turned out to be
$12m but it didn't mollify his feelings about the film.
We had dinner that evening at Romanoff's, a celebrity restaurant in
Beverly Hills run by a phoney prince. Paul had several drinks before he
looked at the menu. He had just triumphed in The Sting, which had been
an enjoyable romp, but he was brooding.
"I guess you read about Scott's dust-up with the cops? The papers were
full of it."
"Yes," I said. "Poor Scott."
"Poor Scott, my ass, kicking a cop in the head!
"I got him a really good lawyer," Paul continued, "and when his case
came up yesterday the judge dropped the felony charge, only convicted
him of a misdemeanour and put him on probation for two years. I paid the
$1,000 fine.
"Of course, the papers made a big deal out of the arrest but nothing
about it being just a misdemeanour. The friggin' New York Post put the
story on the front page: 'Paul Newman's son kicks a cop in the head'."
"He's frustrated, Paul. He wants to be an actor, follow in your
footsteps, and he wants you to be proud of him."
"Yeah, I know. I was that way. I wanted my father to be proud of me, but
he died before I got it going. That's a big regret - that he never got
to see that I did amount to something."
"Did it occur to you that Scott getting drunk and vandalising the bus is
like Cool Hand Luke getting drunk and vandalising all those parking
meters? He so wants to be like you."
"I'd like to talk things out with him but, as you know, I'm not much of
a talker. When we do get together, we talk about sports and other stuff.
We avoid the trouble spots. I've got a shrink lined up for him and I've
got him set up with a good acting programme. Maybe the shrink can get to
where I should go. It doesn't help that Scott doesn't visit us any more.
He doesn't seem to have any friends. I should see him more, I guess, but
with the movies and all . . ."
Paul's own father had run the family's sporting goods store. Paul once
described him as a "brilliant, erudite man with a marvellous, whimsical
sense of humour". He went on: "I think my father always thought of me as
pretty much of a lightweight. He treated me like he was disappointed in
me - he had every right to be.
"It has been one of the great agonies of my life that he never knew how
I turned out. I wanted desperately to show him that somehow, somewhere
along the line I could cut the mustard. But I never got a chance. I had
such respect for him, as a man, for his integrity. . . He had so many
admirable qualities: ethical, moral, funny. But he was distant, beyond
embrace. When my brother and I went into the war - I was a radio
operator - my father wrote us every single day, each of us.
"Every day for three years, he sent us a letter. If you go back and look
at the letters, they were distant. There was no familial sense to them.
But there was an obligation to somehow remind us that there was somebody
back home that was thinking about us."
In the months after his arrest, Scott stopped drinking and using drugs,
joined a health club and exercised regularly. Paul called me one day to
tell me that Scott was going to appear on the highly popular Merv
Griffin talk show that evening. Scott handled himself very well. He was
spontaneous and likeable and radiated good humour. Paul told me he had
congratulated him for his performance and told him he wanted to help him
in any way he could.
When Scott was cast in a guest role on a top-rated TV series, Marcus
Welby, MD, Paul invited a dozen of us to come for dinner and watch. Paul
watched him intently, commented favourably during the commercials and at
the end phoned him in Hollywood and complimented him. Although we never
discussed it, however, I could tell he knew in his heart that Scott was
not destined to have a career as an actor.
Scott did manage to land two or three parts in TV series, but the
assignments petered out and so did Scott's belief that he could make it
as an actor. He still wanted somehow, some way to prove himself and he
decided to try to establish himself as a cabaret singer, appearing in
small clubs as William Scott. I was in Los Angeles when he was appearing
at a nightspot on Melrose Avenue.
He was drinking at the bar when I arrived and we greeted each other with
a warm hug. He performed a set of three songs with the club's
three-piece combo. He sang pleasantly, presented himself in an
attractive way, not trying to do too much, styling himself after Frank
Sinatra's easygoing manner. But the room was not responding, treating
him as a background to the hubbub of their conversations.
Afterwards, Scott and I had a few drinks at the bar. He wanted to talk
about his father, who by then hadn't spoken to him for several months.
Scott hoped his cabaret act would lead to an album, "something Pop can
be proud of". I asked him why he didn't call Paul. "No," he said, "I don't
want him to think I want something from him, like money. I don't want
him to think I can't support myself."
"Can you?" I asked.
"No. I borrow from my friends."
"And when that runs out?"
"That won't happen," he said, heatedly. "I'll always manage. I can do
"Aren't you still mending from that motorcycle spill?"
"Yeah. I had to quit the health club. It's my ribs. But I'm mending.
Booze helps and a couple of lines now and then."
He sipped his drink. "It's hell being his son, you know. They expect you
to be like him, or they try to get to him through me. All of f******
Hollywood seems to have screenplays they want me to give to him. Or for
him to show up somewhere or another. I'm Paul Newman Jr, you know what I
mean? But I don't have his blue eyes. I don't have his talent. I don't
have his luck. I don't have anything . . . that's me. What do they want
of me, Hotch? What do I want of me? All I have is the goddamn name."
That's the last time I saw Scott. The album never happened. There were
no more cabaret bookings. Scott was back on alcohol and drugs. He had no
money and often cadged lodging with friends, sleeping on a couch or the
floor. Paul and Joanne, aware of his plight but finding it difficult to
breach his defences, did manage to provide psychiatric help, which Scott
On the day of his death, one of Scott's friends gave him a bottle of
Valium, most of which he swallowed immediately. Feeling panicked, he
called Dr Mark Weinstein, his psychiatrist, who sent a member of his
staff, Scott Steinberg, to stay overnight with him in his rooms at the
Ramada Inn in west Los Angeles.
Scott decided to retire early. He went into the bedroom and took some
quaaludes along with a line of cocaine. Several hours later, Steinberg
became aware that he was struggling to breathe. He immediately called an
ambulance but Scott had lapsed into a coma and efforts to revive him
It wasn't until we were in the Bahamas, scouting locations for a planned
Hemingway movie, that Paul finally talked about Scott.
When we left Norman's shop, Paul was in a contemplative mood. He took a
path down to the beach and sat on the pink sand under a copse of palms.
I found a shaded spot with my back against one of the palms. We sat for
a while, then Paul said: "Norman knows how to be a father. The way he is
with his four sons. And I only had one."
Paul picked up a handful of the fine, pink sand and let it run through
his fingers. He did it again and again.
"I could have talked to Scott, you know. I meant to. I tried to. I'd
invite him for dinner and that afternoon I'd rehearse in my head what I
was going to . . . things to ask him, things that might get him talking
to me. Scott pushed me away, you know. He was so damned resentful that
he was Paul Newman's son. Anyway, I'd get all rehearsed and we'd talk
but I never got around to the things I'd rehearsed.
"Instead, I'd talk about my car-racing or my race team or about Scott's
skydiving . . . nothing that touched on any of his problems. I knew he
drank too much and drugged himself but I didn't know how to open a door
into him. He'd get kicked out of school and I'd talk to the headmaster
so I knew the problems but . . . I knew the problems and I wanted to
call Scott and sit him down to talk but . . . Christ, all I did was use
my influence to get him accepted by another school."
Paul closed his eyes and leant his head on his arms. "I was the same
with my father," he said in a muffled voice. "That distance. I wanted .
. . I wanted to feel we were together. That he liked me. That I was his
son. The closest we ever got was when he shook my hand.
"I don't think I ever hugged Scott or patted him on his arm or back or
rump - the things fathers do. I never talked to him about his being an
actor - can you imagine? He didn't have the talent - I should have been
realistic with him. There are other things he could do besides jumping
out of aeroplanes. But what did I do? I tried to help him get more
acting jobs, which did nothing but make him more aware of his failures
and more into booze and drugs to cover up his inadequacies. My own
father died before I got going as an actor, so he died thinking I was a
failure. That still bothers me . . . a lot."
Paul lay back on the sand and looked up at the sky between the palm
"Scott died before he had a fair chance to be a success . . . at
something," he said to the sky. "I think about him . . . often . . . it
hurts. The guilt. The guilt.
All I could have done . . . and didn't do."
I said: "You did what you could."
 "There's nothing you can say that will repair
my guilt about Scott. It will be with me as long as I live."
"You're being much too hard on yourself."
"No, I'm not being hard enough."

Paul Newman seemed a happy family man. But, as his friend reveals, the 
Hollywood star tortured himself over his tragic failure to be a good 
father to his self-destructive son
AE Hotchner

"We know a lot of fathers, don't we, Hotch? How many of them have had
kids who gave up and committed . . . and died? Oh hell, why don't I say
it - committed suicide. That's what Scott was doing - slowly committing
suicide. And I was watching it happen. And all I did was make more
movies and be a big star."

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