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.

Carla Bruni: France’s Femme Fatale First Lady

Yesterday I did something I haven’t done in months: I bought a magazine. I get all my news on the Web these days, but I couldn’t resist the glossy pages of the September Vanity Fair with Carla Bruni on the cover.

The VF stylists have Bruni, a former model, dressed in riding clothes for the cover photo by Annie Leibovitz. I’ve never owned a horse, nor am I to the manor born, but with all my Sagittarian planets, I love the horsey look.

The cover headline also sold me: “Carla Bruni: The New Jackie O?” Like Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis, Bruni knows how to dress for the occasion. One of my favorite shots in the VF photo spread shows Bruni dressed in a prim tweed suit fit for a dowager and wearing flats as she chats amiably with Queen Elizabeth of England. No doubt the 5-feet, 9-inch former model didn’t want to make the Queen uncomfortable by wearing high heels.

A lot has been written about Bruni, a former muse to rock stars like Mick Jagger and a best-selling chanteuse in her own right, since she and French President Nicolas Sarkozy got married on Feb. 2 after a whirlwind romance.

Bruni’s colorful past has some French citizens questioning whether she is fit to be First Lady. From where I sit, she is the perfect First Lady for France. Her background (fashion and the arts) plays to France’s strengths on the global scene. Oh, and did I mention that she’s beautiful?

Claire Courts, the Frenchwoman who writes AstroRevolution, did an excellent post on Bruni, a Capricorn born Dec. 23, 1967 at 6:10 p.m. in Turin, Italy, and Sarkozy, born Jan. 28, 1955 at 10 p.m. in Paris, the day after their wedding. (Now that’s fast work!) You can read it here.

Courts has done a formidable job of analyzing both the charts of Bruni, who is Sarkozy’s third wife; the mercurial French President; and the composite that combines both their charts. Just so I don’t look like an astrological hitchhiker by linking to AstroRevolution, I’m going to weigh in with a few observations of my own.

VF says that when Bruni was 28 (ah, the old Saturn return!), Italian industrialist Alberto Bruni-Tedeschi told her that he was not her “genetic father.” Bruni learned that her biological father is Maurizio Remmert, a classical guitarist. So her success as a musician is due not just to nurture, but to nature. As astrologers, we might chalk it up to her Venus/Neptune conjunction in Scorpio.

Getting a sudden shock about one’s family reflects Bruni’s Virgo Moon conjunct revolutionary Uranus/Pluto. Interestingly, this Virgo stellium opposes Chiron in Pisces. Since Chiron is called the “Wounded Healer,” this aspect suggests a psychic injury concerning Bruni’s home or background.

Those who follow sun sign astrology might notice that Bruni is a Capricorn, an earth sign, while Sarkozy is an Aquarian, an air sign. These signs are next to, or adjacent, to each other. This position is usually dismissed by the cookie-cutter astrology books, which favor combos between signs of the same element (earth, water, air, or fire) or 60 degrees away (fire with air, earth with water).

Here’s a little secret that my longtime astrology teacher Eileen McCabe taught me: “Adjacents” frequently hook up because the two signs have much to teach each other. The staid Capricorn can give the revolutionary Aquarius some oft-needed discipline, while the Water Bearer can get the stiff-necked Goat to loosen up a little.

Now, you ask, what’s staid about Bruni? Well, she was to the manor born and was raised in a wealthy Italian family that is part of the Establishment. In contrast, Sarkozy is an outsider. He’s the son of immigrants who had to start over after leaving Hungary in 1947 and he did not attend any of the top schools that turn out France’s political leaders. In politics, he’s pursued a maverick style typical of an Aquarian.

Given McCabe’s theory about adjacent signs, it’s interesting to read in Maureen Orth’s VF article how Bruni has reined in Sarkozy’s flashy way of dressing, which had earned him the nickname “le President Bling-Bling.”

A footnote about the Bruni profile in VF: An editor’s note says author Orth turned in the piece a few days before her husband Tim Russert died.

While we’re on the topic of Vanity Fair, I wish the magazine would bring back astrologer Michael Lutin. The magazine isn’t the same without his Planetarium. Yes, I can read Lutin’s horoscopes elsewhere, but as an astrologer, I couldn’t wait to see how he was going to distill complex aspects and transits into a cocktail that the masses could imbibe.

Eight Gold Medals for Michael Phelps

I took a little drive today to pick up our cat and I heard the deejay on the radio say, “Maybe there’s something to this numerology business, because the Olympics started at 8:08 p.m. on 8-8-08, and now Michael Phelps has won eight gold medals.”

An interesting thought. I was going to rush home and work up an analysis on the U.S. swimmer who is being hailed as “the greatest Olympian of all time,” but Claire Courts at AstroRevolution has beaten me to the punch.

Claire is French so perhaps she can have an unbiased view of Phelps, who is a Cancer, the same sign as the U.S. Cancer rules the mother and an AP story I was just reading said that the Olympian’s relationship with his father is strained, but that many women, including his mom, have cheered him on over the years.

You can read Claire’s analysis here.