Paul Newman, 1925-2008: Nobody’s Fool

I’m reposting an updated version of something I wrote back in June, when it was first reported that Paul Newman was suffering from cancer. Newman passed away Friday.

Even at the age of 83, Paul Newman was still my favorite bad boy. Unlike James Dean, he stayed alive, and unlike Marlon Brando, he managed to live his life off-screen in an inspiring manner.

He married a class act, Joanne Woodward, and stayed married for 50 years. He started Newman’s Own, the food company that has donated $200 million of its profits to charity, and he funded the Hole in the Wall Gang Camp for terminally ill kids. And the race car driving! Talk about living the life you want.

A cool Aquarius born Jan. 26, 1925, Newman had a Capricorn stellium of Jupiter, Mercury, and Venus on his Ascendant. The combo showed up in his childhood — his father owned a successful sporting (Jupiter) goods store (Cap) and in his movies — ones about the legal system (Jupiter) like The Verdict and ones about racing (Mercury) like Winning, which prompted Newman to take up the sport in real life.

The Jupiterian sports theme was also evident in the aptly named Somebody Up There Likes Me (a boxing film that was supposed to star James Dean until he died), Cat on a Hot Tin Roof (ex-football player), The Hustler (pool), and Slap Shot (hockey).

Because the Jupiter/Mercury/Venus lineup was in Capricorn, Newman continued to work well after he acquired wrinkles and gray hair, a rarity in youth-dominated Hollywood. And, as commenter GianPaul points out, it’s square Mars in Aries, injecting an element of sexy danger.

The Cap lineup opposed Pluto in Cancer in the seventh house of relationships. Here was a very intense guy who forged lasting alliances with both business and romantic partners.

Given that Cancerian (food) emphasis in the seventh house of partnerships, I get a chuckle when I remember Newman’s response when an interviewer asked why he remained married in spite of the temptations that beckon a superstar actor: “I have steak at home, why go out for hamburger?” is what Newman told Playboy magazine.

Underneath the bravado, Newman was sensitive, with a Pisces Moon, which was conjunct Woodward’s Sun. Meanwhile, her Aquarius Moon was on his Sun. They had the classic marriage indicator — Sun/Moon conjunction — going in both directions. In a world where the word “soulmates” gets overused, Newman and Woodward were the real thing.

When I was reading an article about Newman in the September Vanity Fair, I was struck by his description of his relationship with Woodward. “Joanne has a habit of rationalizing [Aquarius], and when she starts that, that’s when I turn ugly! But when she tells me what she instinctively feels [Pisces], I pay very close attention.”

Interesting that the Aquarian gets annoyed when his Aquarius Moon wife starts “rationalizing,” but responds when she expresses her feelings, mirroring his Pisces Moon.

The amazing synastry between Newman and Woodward prompted many astrologers to write journal articles and give conference presentations on Newman and Woodward. (Synastry is astrologese for compatibility.)

Rather than live in the limelight of Tinseltown, Newman and Woodward escaped to small-town America to raise three daughters — Claire, Elinor (Nell), and Melissa. Newman had two daughters — Susan and Stephanie — from a previous marriage, as well as a son, Scott, who died of an accidental drug overdose in 1978. The residents of Westport, Conn., respected the privacy of their town’s biggest celebrities, according to this poignant story from the Associated Press.

Looking at recent transits to Newman’s chart, his natal Neptune in Leo, which squared Saturn in Scorpio, was being opposed by transiting Neptune, North Node, and Chiron in Aquarius during his fight with cancer.

Jupiter in Capricorn was on Newman’s Ascendant when he died. As we students of astrology know, people leaving the earth often have “happy” transits. Saturn and Pluto show up in the charts of the survivors, usually making aspects to the personal planets or the angles.

My French astropal, Claire Courts at AstroRevolution, has a good analysis of the transits to Newman’s chart when he passed away.

Here’s the chart from AstroDataBank.

I’d be hard-pressed to say which Paul Newman film is my favorite. Certainly, not the classic Seventies buddy flicks he did with Robert Redford, Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid and The Sting, though I loved them at the time. Not edgy enough for me. I’ve narrowed it down to Hud, Cool Hand Luke, and The Hustler.

In his later years, I loved the reprise of The Hustler that he did with Tom Cruise, The Color of Money, which won him his sole best actor Oscar.

A special place is reserved for Newman’s collaboration with Woodward in Mr. and Mrs. Bridge, produced by the art film champions Ishmael Merchant and James Ivory. The two play a bourgeois WASP couple from Kansas City who try to keep their marriage on even keel.

I had the pleasure of meeting Newman once at an Indian restaurant that Merchant owned next to the Paris Theatre in New York in the mid-Nineties. Those blue eyes were truly incredible. I’ll never forget them. Ditto for the sly grin when you first spot him across the room, the one that says, “Yeah, it’s me.”

As an old college buddy pointed out when I first posted this riff, Newman was the perfect curmudgeon in the film adaptation of the Richard Russo novel Nobody’s Fool. Filmed in the town where I live, Beacon, N.Y., Fool helped kick-start the revitalization of Main Street after the film studio paid for some refurbishing. Interesting that with this connection between Newman and my hometown, his stellium of Cap planets falls on the cusp of the fourth house, while rules the home.

Millions of children who may not know Newman for his charismatic screen presence probably can recognize his voice. He vivified a Hudson Hornet in Pixar’s Cars. In that animated film, Newman was the voice of Doc Hudson, the mayor in the town of Radiator Springs. Ole Doc has a thing or two to teach whippersnapper Lightning McQueen, whose voice was provided by Owen Wilson.

The slogan for Cool Hand Luke, which was uttered by a prison warden in the film and has since become part of the American lexicon, was: “What we’ve got here is a failure (pronounced “fail-yuh”) to communicate.”

There was never a failure to communicate between Newman and his audiences. Fans got the testosterone-injected message loud and clear. Men wanted to be cool, tough, and later, worldly-wise like him. And women? We all know what women wanted.


12 comments on “Paul Newman, 1925-2008: Nobody’s Fool

  1. Hadn’t heard that. I try not to get wrapped up in the lives of people I don’t know, but you’re right, he is inspirational. It was YEARS before anyone really knew he had anything to do with Charlie Woods’s Hole in the Wall Gang Camp — he kept all that stuff very quiet, very old school.

    But you missed his best role ever — the irsascible scamp in “Nobody’s Fool.”

  2. Carl — Thanks for reminding me about “Nobody’s Fool.” I had forgotten about it. Did you know that the movie was shot in our hometown of Beacon? It really was the beginning of this town’s turnaround. Evidently, the film company paid for the restoration of our classic Yankee Clipper diner. Lots of footage was also shot in Hudson, N.Y., where I was this weekend visiting Frederic Church’s Olana.

    It’s a good thing you didn’t pursue a journalism career since it definitely requires getting involved in the lives of people you don’t know. 🙂 Hey, but I’m glad you’re involved in this blog!


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  5. Monica, did you notice the Neptune Rx transit is exactly opposite his natal Neptune Rx . Cool Hand Luke was released in 1967 – 41 years ago (again that 1/4 transit of Neptune comes up) when Neptune was in Scorpio and probably squaring its natal position. Also, his natal Uranus is at 19 Pisces with tr Uranus Rx conjunct and tr Saturn approaching the opposition. Today, the Sun is also conjunct his 9th house cusp.

  6. Monica – Are you hiding what women liked in Paul Newman, by being enigmatic? Caught you: His map’s governor is MARS (23 -24 degrees Aries). So now we all know. Even grey-haired, he was fire, demonstrated by his risk-taking car racing.

    PS Was happy as well to see the transits on his chart while he passed away. Good guy!

  7. GP — How are you getting Mars as the “governor”? I see Saturn as the chart ruler with Capricorn rising. Saturn was in Scorpio, and Pluto rules Scorpio, so I would say Pluto in Cancer is the final ruler. Maybe you’re using the ancient ruler of Scorpio, Mars, to come up with Mars as governor? Best, Monica

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  9. Monica – Astrology is itself “ruled” by many theories, far too many, and there are probably more to come. I have decided to follow the rules that have been verified over time and where possible by myself.

    Take poor Pluto. Since his discovery he has not even been given the chance to make an entire solar revolution, and there are tons of interpretations about what he “does or doesn’t.” Astrologers even are upset at attempts to declassify him from being a planet, so impressed are they by their own theories.

    According to my “French-style” astrology (France is where I learned about the stuff), if, as in Paul Newman’s case, a person (or entity) has one or more planets in its own sign, no need to look for dispositors.

    In Newman’s case, Mars does the job. And well. From my point of view this memorable actor is very Aries, Mars nicely “wrapped” in House IV.

    All you say in your interpretation is well said, except you can not overlook “Mars ruling.” I am Aries, so a bit sensitive in this respect. Even gone, Paul Newman provides entertainment, now astrological… — GianPaul

  10. He was a great man, but I really only got to know him with his terrific food brands.

    Here’s some info I really found engaging, via WolfStar on

    “The Mercury Factor

    In these last two months of the presidential race, a curious celestial pattern unfolds: Mercury in Libra turns retrograde on September 23 and then direct on October 15, marking a three-week interval when the three presidential debates take place. Mercury will be in indecisive Libra between now and November 4, bringing any number of misstatements, faulty information, and shifts in voter opinions.

    Here’s one planetary signature that tilts me toward Obama. He declared his candidacy on February 10, 2007 (10:13 am; Chicago, IL) when Mars was at 18º Capricorn and the Moon was void of course in Scorpio. On Inauguration Day (January 20, 2009; 12:00 pm; Washington D.C.), Mars will be at 18º Capricorn and the Moon void of course in Scorpio.

    On the other hand, in the U.S. horoscope, progressed Venus is heading into an opposition to progressed Mars. Progressed Venus is in strong-willed Aries, while progressed Mars is much weakened by being in Libra (the sign of its fall), in the Twelfth House, and retrograde. This correlates to the growing feminine power in the country, which initially I pegged as the rise of Hillary Clinton, but now seems to favor Sarah Palin.

    Mercury spends a great deal of time in the U.S. Twelfth House of Secrets between now and Election Day. Mercury here tells us there’s a lot we don’t know about the candidates’ stances, and what we do know may not be correct or is subject to change. Contradictory reports will likely confuse and split swing voters. Not until November 4 (at 11:00 am EST) does Mercury enter decisive Scorpio, when last-minute choices will collectively determine the next president.”

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