Saturday, September 23, 2006

Paul Newman was no hunk

In the original Broadway production of William Inge's play "Picnic", Paul Newman made his Broadway debut as the lackluster best friend Alan (played by Cliff Robertson in the film version), to leading man Ralph Meeker's Hal Carter (Hal was the role William Holden played in the film version. Not surprisingly, Newman coveted the role of Hal either in a touring company or as Meeker's replacement.
Elena Oumano tells this story in her biography of Paul Newman entitled "Newman". (page 43)

He did get to play Hal for two weeks when Meeker was indisposed, but when Newman asked director [Joshua] Logan if, on the strength of his performance, he could take over Meeker’s role in the road company, Logan again failed to discern leading-man material in the slight blue-eyed young man. “I don’t think so,” he told a disappointed Newman, “because you don’t carry any sexual threat.”

Internet Broadway Database page for 1953 production of "Picnic"



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