Take a close look at the above photo of Paul Newman! We did, and were convinced that this had to be a mug shot.
Hello, everybody. Joe Morella and Frank Segers, your classic movie guys, here today with a bit of egg on our faces.
We come bearing apologies to you, faithful readers, and to Paul Newman.
Instead of inaugurating our newly-conceived ‘Mug Shot Mondays’ series with a one of those marvelously comical candids of a big stars in the hands of the police, we are compelled today to instead provide — a major correction to our blog of Jan. 11, Paul Newman Mug Shot? See Him As You Never Have!
We theorized after researching the actor’s life that the above photo was a mug shot that resulted from a youthful indiscretion committed while Newman was attending Ohio’s Kenyon College. Some backround:
Newman 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 the above photo.
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.)
Still, we figured the above photo was indeed a mug shot stemming from the incident.
We were wrong. No less than the Newman biographer we quoted wrote us with the following:
Howdy. Shawn Levy here.
Hate to rain on a parade in which I myself am marching, but this isn’t a booking photo. It’s an enlistment photo taken when Newman joined the Navy in 1943. It was unearthed last year, I believe, by The Smoking Gun: https://tinyurl.com/3aksw5y.
The story about the melee in Ohio is absolutely true: I read and reported on contemporary police and newspaper accounts. But the Newman you see in this picture is nearly four years younger than the fellow who got arrested that night. Best, Shawn.
Thanks so much for writing in, Shawn, and keeping us honest. Next Monday, dear readers, we will provide a real mug shot of a famous personality. Promise.