Close up on Paul Newman

By Melanie Abrams, September 3, 2009
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Paul Newman relaxes off-set while in Israel.

Paul Newman relaxes off-set while in Israel.

For 30 years, a collection of iconic photos of Paul Newman lay forgotten. They may have remained so but for the son of Leo Fuchs, who discovered them eight years ago, stacked in unmarked boxes.

Alexandre Fuchs was stunned — the photographs reveal film stars of the ’50s and ’60s including Newman, Marlon Brando and Audrey Hepburn in unusually private moments; off-set, even sleeping. Also, Alexandre had no idea that his father was a photographer — he had only known him only as a film producer.

“Many of the pictures were taken in moments of intimacy when not many people were around,” he explains.

Now his remarkable photographs of Paul Newman are showing in London for the first time at Proud Camden. Many were taken during the filming of Exodus on location in Acre and Jerusalem.

Filming Exodus resonated for Paul

The 1960 film, adapted from the bestselling book by Leon Uris, tells the story of an Israeli resistance fighter (Newman) who brings a boat of European Jews into Palestine and recounts the situation in Israel as independence is declared.

For both Fuchs and Newman, filming Exodus resonated on a personal level. Alexandre says: “For my dad, the idea of people getting on the boat to the Holy Land reminded him of the boat he took to New York in 1938 [from Vienna]. It was also an important film for Paul to make because he felt that it was part of who he was as a Jew and put him back in touch with his roots [Newman’s father was Jewish].”

Fuchs started taking photographs at 14 on the streets of New York. His early images were of celebrities in Broadway nightclubs, and after serving as an army photographer in Europe in the early 1950s, he stayed on, taking photos on film locations for Life, Look and other magazines.

Rock Hudson invited Fuchs to Hollywood, after he shot his film Come September in Rome. He worked there until 1965, when he moved to Paris to produce films such as Gambit with Michael Caine. He stayed there until his death earlier this year.

Photographing Newman in Exodus was one of his favourite shoots. “Most of my time was spent with Paul and Joanne Woodward, who had joined Paul throughout this whole location. Joanne, Paul, Sylviane [Fuch’s wife] and I would go sightseeing around Israel or try different restaurants,” Fuchs recalled in an unpublished memoir.

Some of the images in the show are from these sightseeing trips and provide a fresh insight into Newman. He is seen, for example, larking around in the car, sharing tender moments with his wife and even playing table tennis.

According to Fuchs, Newman was easy work with: “Paul had an enormous appetite for knowledge; everything interested him. He had a fabulous sense of humour yet was very serious about his work. He never took himself seriously.”

Indeed this shared sense of humour and the good time that they had together made it easier for his father to take these pictures, says Alexandre Fuchs — which is evident in the images throughout the display.

Fuchs and Newman remained friends throughout their lives and, fondly recalling his father’s words, he says: “Paul was a man of tremendous personal stature; a thoughtful, smart person. And a mensch.”

Remembering Paul Newman, Proud Camden, The Horse Hospital, The Stables Market, Chalk Farm Road, London NW1 8AH, until 23 October 2009, 020 7839 4942, www.proud.co.uk

Last updated: 11:22am, September 3 2009