How many movie stars have mug shots in their past?

It might surprise you to learn that quite a few do, although few admit it. Some do but gloss over the circumstances that prompted the unflattering full frontal and profile photos, courtesy of one police department or another.

Here’s one mug shot which surfaced recently.

Hello Everybody.  Joe Morella and Frank Segers, your classic movie guys, betting that you — our most savvy audience — had absolutely no trouble identifying the callow-looking face pictured above just from the photo above without first peaking at our headline.

Joe and co-author, Ed Epstein, wrote a bio of Paul Newman and Joanne Woodward sometime back  — 1989’s Paul and Joanne — but hadn’t unearthed the above arrest photo of what appears to be a late teenaged Newman. Thus the incident that prompted this shot is not covered in the book.

A little research provides a pretty good idea of how Newman’s mug shot came to be.

The actor came from a reasonably affluent middle class family — his father was a sports goods dealer in Shaker Heights, Ohio, a suburb of Cleveland — and in 1943, at the age of 18, he enlisted in the Navy towards the end of World War II.  By 1946, Newman was honorably discharged, and had enrolled at Gambier, Ohio’s Kenyon College on the GI Bill. He was 21 at the time.

Newman always regarded himself as undersized, a frustration since he longed to play college football.  (In fact, he actually made Kenyon’s team but only on the practice squad.) Notice that he stands a tad over 5-foot-9-inches in his mug shot. While at Kenyon, Newman also developed the essential skills of heavy duty socializing and beer drinking.

According to Shawn Levy’s Paul Newman: A Life (published 2009, a year after Newman died), The police got the first word: at approximately midnight on Wednesday, October 23, 1946, somebody at the Sunset Club in Mount Vernon, Ohio — the nearest town to Kenyon — summoned the cops to help break up a fight between some local boys and a band of Kenyon football players who’d come into town to slug back beers and chat up girls.

Involved in the melee unbeknowst to the rowdy collegians were two local deputies in plainclothes. The upshot: six students were arrested. One was Paul Newman.

The charges against Newman and three others were later dropped because, according to the prosecutor, they were a part of the resistance only as they were part of the crowd.

But, but, but Newman was kicked off the football team and placed on probation at Kenyon, a college he loved.

If nothing else the youthful indiscretion may have to some extent prepared the actor for one of Newman’s most memorable screen roles, that of Lucas Jackson, the wayward youth who drunkenly vandalizes a small town’s parking meters one night, and is promptly arrested and sentenced to a Florida prison camp.  The movie, of course, is 1967’s Cool Hand Luke.

We’ve discovered more mug shots of celebrities, and will be bringing those to you in future blogs.  In fact, Joe came up with a brilliant idea: run the jail house photos at the outsets of our five-days-a-week blog, marking the occasion with the designation — Mugg Shot Monday. 

So stay tuned for more.


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