Jerry and Mary Newport

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Jerry Newport and Mary Newport
  • Gerald Newport
  • Mary Meinel
OccupationAuthors, public speakers, advocates
Notable worksMozart and the Whale: An Asperger's Love Story

Gerald Newport (1948–2023),[1] better known as Jerry Newport, and Mary Newport (1954/1955 – ?),[1] née Mary Meinel, also known as Mary Meinel-Newport, were authors, advocates, and public speakers who had been diagnosed with Asperger syndrome and whose lives became the basis for the 2005 film Mozart and the Whale.[2] Their written works include self-help books related to autism and Asperger's, as well as their 2007 memoir Mozart and the Whale: An Asperger's Love Story.


Jerry Newport was born in 1948 and raised in Islip, New York[3] by parents who were teachers.[4] By age 7, he began showing signs of advanced mathematical ability, which continued to develop during school.[3] Jerry graduated from the University of Michigan with a B.A. in mathematics.[3] He then spent about twenty years in a variety of jobs, including cab driver, busser, and deliveryperson.[5][6]

According to Alex Bellos, "As soon as Jerry sees a big number, he divides it up into prime numbers," and this made driving cab "particularly enjoyable" for Jerry, because "there was always a number on the licence plate in front of him."[7] Bellos also described Jerry's process as "very similar" to the Sieve of Eratosthenes.[8]

Mary Meinel was born in 1954 or 1955[9] and raised in Tucson, Arizona, one of seven children of the astronomers Aden Meinel and Marjorie Meinel.[10][11][12] She began to have difficulty in school as an adolescent.[3] She attended the University of Arizona for more than two years, and left in 1978 after what she described as a nervous breakdown.[10]

Mary worked as a piano technician and tuner in Los Angeles and New York,[10] and in 1986, began composing music and drawing, but felt discouraged from art and music by relatives and friends in the late 1980s.[3] She also studied gemological identification and jewelry manufacturing, and tried to work in the gem industry in New York City.[10] Mary had two sons, and she and her children moved frequently over ten years.[3]

In 1991, Mary obtained representation from Central Casting and was later hired for guest appearances on Star Trek.[3] She was diagnosed with autism/Asperger's in 1993 by a UCLA psychologist and referred to a support group.[3]

Jerry had seen the film Rain Man for the first time in 1988, then started reading about autism[13] and contacted Bernard Rimland, a founder of the Autism Society of America.[3] After Jerry attended conferences about autism, he became a coordinator for the first self-help group for adults with autism, the chair of an ad-hoc advisory panel to the Autism Society of America, and a spokesperson.[3][13]

Mary met Jerry at a support group in Los Angeles.[4] In 1993, Jerry told Mary about a Halloween party being held by the Adult Gathering, United and Autistic self-help group; she attended dressed as Mozart, and he wore a whale costume constructed from chicken wire and newspaper.[3] Their first date was at the Los Angeles Zoo on November 28, 1993.[3] They became engaged to marry in April 1994, and married in August 1994.[3]

In 1995, at age 47, Jerry was diagnosed with Asperger syndrome.[14] In October 1995, Kim Kowsky wrote a feature article about Jerry and Mary in the Los Angeles Times,[15] and quoted Linda Demer, a former board member of the Autism Society of Los Angeles, referring to them as "superstars in the world of autism" and "a source of inspiration for a lot of people".[3] In March 1996, The Arizona Daily Star reported Mary could write "beautiful, note-perfect classical symphonies perfectly, and often while painting or drawing with her other hand."[12] In September 1996, they appeared on the CBS News show 60 Minutes.[5][15]

Jerry and Mary separated in 1997.[9] In June 1999, they divorced, and Mary returned to Tucson.[5][9] Mary called Jerry after about a year afterwards, and they remarried eleven months later, on Valentine's Day in 2002.[5][9] By 2004, they resided in Arizona, and the film Mozart and the Whale, loosely based on their lives, was completed but not yet released.[5] They appeared on 60 Minutes in another segment by Lesley Stahl in 2004.[5] The film Mozart and the Whale was released in 2005.[9]

In 2007, Mary was working as a peer counselor, and Jerry worked as a cab driver and tax preparer.[16] In June 2010, Jerry competed in the Mental Calculation World Cup in Magdeburg, Germany and won the World Cup Trophy for "Most Versatile Calculator".[7]

Writing career[edit]

After their appearance on 60 Minutes in 1996, Jerry and Mary wrote self-help books for people with autism and Asperger's syndrome.[5] Their work includes Autism/Aspergers & Sexuality: Puberty and Beyond, which was released on July 1, 2002.[17] Chantal Sicile-Kira writes in Autism Spectrum Disorder (revised): The Complete Guide to Understanding Autism that parts of Autism/Aspergers & Sexuality and the 2001 book written by Jerry, Your Life is Not a Label, "can be very helpful to the teenager," and Your Life is Not a Label is one of several books that help dispel the myth about people with autism lacking emotion and being incapable of forming attachments to other people.[18]

Mozart and the Whale: An Asperger's Love Story[edit]

Their writing career also includes the 2007 memoir Mozart and the Whale: An Asperger's Love Story, co-authored with Johnny Dodd, about their lives with Asperger's syndrome, including after gaining media attention.[9][15]

According to a Publishers Weekly review, "autistic readers will find comforting fellowship, and general readers will acquire valuable knowledge."[15] In a chapter contributed to Development and Brain Systems in Autism, Temple Grandin described Jerry as a 'patterns thinker' and 'numbers savant,' and wrote that the memoir Mozart and the Whale is a way to "learn more about" his "method of specialized thinking."[19] Stephen Shore, the author of Beyond the Wall: Personal Experiences With Autism and Asperger Syndrome said that with their book, "Jerry and Mary Newport show us all what it is to be human and how love truly can conquer all."[16]

A review in Library Journal states "While this book has a great deal of promise, and its subjects' lives are truly interesting, the book fails to deliver" and suggests Songs of the Gorilla Nation: My Journey Through Autism by Dawn Prince-Hughes or A Real Person: Life on the Outside by Gunilla Gerland for "better descriptions of Asperger's syndrome in adults," while also stating the book "could benefit larger public libraries with autism collections."[20]

Selected works[edit]

  • Newport, Jerry (2001). Your life is not a label : a guide to living fully with autism and Asperger's syndrome for parents, professionals, and you!. Arlington, Texas: Future Horizons. ISBN 1-885477-77-5.
  • Newport, Jerry; Mary Newport (2002). Autism-Asperger's & Sexuality: Puberty and Beyond. Arlington, Texas: Future Horizons. ISBN 1-885477-88-0.
  • Newport, Jerry; Mary Newport; Johnny Dodd (2007). Mozart and the Whale: An Asperger's Love Story. New York: Touchstone Books. ISBN 978-0-7432-7282-7.

Personal life[edit]

Jerry and Mary both kept birds as pets before they married in 1994.[9] By 2004, they had 11 birds, three iguanas, and a rabbit.[5] In 2007, their household included a poodle mix named Wolfie and 13 birds.[9]


  1. ^ a b "Gerald Newport". Science Care. Archived from the original on 26 March 2023. Retrieved 2 May 2023.
  2. ^ Webster, Dan (April 14, 2006). "A POIGNANT MESSAGE; Spokane-filmed 'Mozart & the Whale' is based on real-life author Jerry Newport and his wife". Spokesman Review. ProQuest 395017419
  3. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m n Kowsky, Kim (October 23, 1995). "COLUMN ONE : Against the Odds: a Love Story : Jerry and Mary Newport grew up as outcasts. Now, they have found each other--and clues to the medical mystery that tormented them". Los Angeles Times. Archived from the original on 2023-03-11. Retrieved 2 May 2023.
  4. ^ a b Youds, Mike (March 20, 2010). "The whale speaks; Fundraising speaker and wife inspired 2005 film Mozart and the Whale". Kamloops Daily News. ProQuest 358522964
  5. ^ a b c d e f g h Leung, Rebecca (September 29, 2004). "When Jerry Met Mary". CBS News. Archived from the original on 21 April 2023. Retrieved 3 May 2023.
  6. ^ Fast, Yvona (2004). Employment for Individuals with Asperger Syndrome Or Non-verbal Learning Disability: Stories and Strategies. Jessica Kingsley Publishers. p. 11. ISBN 9781843107668. Retrieved 11 June 2023. Jerry Newport, who has founded several support groups for adults with ASD over the last ten years [said,] "Of the couple of hundred AS people I have met, at least half have jobs, but very few are employed at the level you would expect if you knew their education." [...] Despite a university degree in mathematics, he has spent most of his life as a taxi driver and courier, but finally found work in accounting and tax consulting.
  7. ^ a b Bellos, Alex (April 4, 2014). "Why we all love numbers". The Guardian. Archived from the original on 21 April 2023. Retrieved 3 May 2023.
  8. ^ Bellos, Alex (2014). Alex Through the Looking-Glass: How Life Reflects Numbers, and Numbers Reflect Life. Bloomsbury Publishing. p. 212. ISBN 9781408845752. Retrieved 12 June 2023.
  9. ^ a b c d e f g h Bruner, Betsey (16 January 2007). "Autism, love and Hollywood". Arizona Daily Sun. Archived from the original on 11 June 2023. Retrieved 11 June 2023.
  10. ^ a b c d Motherway, Nancy (March 27, 1996). "Artistic UA alumna copes daily with challenge of being autistic". Arizona Daily Wildcat. Archived from the original on 17 July 2014. Retrieved 11 June 2023.
  11. ^ Breckinridge, Jim B.; Pridgeon, Alec M. (2022). With stars in their eyes: the extraordinary lives and enduring genius of Aden and Marjorie Meinel. New York, NY: Oxford University Press. pp. viiii–x. ISBN 9780190915698.
  12. ^ a b Prentice, Melissa (March 25, 1996). "Appreciation of diversity lends to understanding autistic behavior". Arizona Daily Star. Retrieved 11 June 2023.
  13. ^ a b Ruttan, Susan (October 24, 2004). "Hardwired for trouble". Edmonton Journal. ProQuest 253162560
  14. ^ Newport, Jerry (December 2006). "Being Jerry Newport". The Exceptional Parent. 36 (12): 33. ProQuest 223502202
  15. ^ a b c d "Mozart and the Whale: An Asperger's Love Story". Publishers Weekly. October 9, 2006. Archived from the original on 21 April 2023. Retrieved 2 May 2023.
  16. ^ a b "Autistic authors write their own love story". LancasterOnline. 30 September 2007. Retrieved 13 June 2023.
  17. ^ Bovee, Jean-Paul (March 2003). "Autism/Asperger's and Sexuality (Book)". Autism: The International Journal of Research & Practice. 7 (1): 115–117. doi:10.1177/1362361303007001012. ISSN 1362-3613. S2CID 220067948.
  18. ^ Sicile-Kira, Chantal (2014). Autism Spectrum Disorder (revised): The Complete Guide to Understanding Autism. Penguin Publishing Group. pp. 159, 6. ISBN 9780399166631. Retrieved 11 June 2023.
  19. ^ Grandin, Temple (2013). "My Experience with Visual Thinking and Sensory Oversensitivity". In Just, Marcel Adam; Pelphrey, Kevin Archer (eds.). Development and Brain Systems in Autism. Psychology Press. p. 8. ISBN 9781848728660. Retrieved 12 June 2023.
  20. ^ Seeman, Corey (November 15, 2006). "Mozart and the Whale: An Asperger's Love Story". Library Journal. 131 (19) – via Education Research Complete.

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