Scott Newman (actor)

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Scott Newman
Born Alan Scott Newman
(1950-09-23)September 23, 1950
Cleveland, Ohio, U.S.
Died November 20, 1978(1978-11-20) (aged 28)
Los Angeles, California, U.S.
Cause of death Barbiturate overdose
Occupation Actor, stuntman
Years active 1973–77
Parent(s) Paul Newman and Jackie Witte

Alan Scott Newman (September 23, 1950 – November 20, 1978) was an American film and television actor and stuntman, whose most prominent roles were in The Towering Inferno and Breakheart Pass. He was the only son of Academy Award-winning actor Paul Newman. After Scott Newman's death in 1978 from a drug overdose, his father established the Scott Newman Center in his honor, dedicated to preventing drug abuse through education.[1]

Early life[edit]

Born in Cleveland, Ohio, to Paul Newman and his first wife, Jackie Witte, Scott Newman was a year old when the family moved to New York City.[2]

When Scott was still a young boy with two younger sisters, Susan and Stephanie, his father moved to California to further his career, leaving his family in New York. By 1958, his parents had divorced and his father had married Joanne Woodward, who settled in Westport, Connecticut during the late 1960s, where Scott attended Staples High School briefly. In a later interview, Paul Newman said of his children, "When they were growing up I wasn't there much, and when I was there I was very inconsistent with them. It was hard for them to get a balance."[2] Scott attended expensive private schools but was dismissed from some of them for bad behavior.[3] He came to resent the absence of his father, blaming Woodward and refusing to speak to her.[2]

Acting career[edit]

By the late 1960s, Scott had dropped out of college and started to take jobs as a stuntman in his father's films, making over 500 parachute jumps to become a certified instructor.[3] He also took on menial jobs and refused to ask his father for financial help.[3] In the early 1970s, his father decided to use his influence to try to initiate an acting career for his son, and arranged a part for him in The Great Waldo Pepper, starring Robert Redford. At the time, Scott stated, "I'm not taking any acting help from my father. I want my work to stand on its own merit."[2] He had started to drink heavily, and was arrested for minor alcohol-related offences. He also assaulted a police officer, kicking him in the head in a squad car after being arrested for vandalizing a school bus while drunk.[3] Newman's father paid the resulting $1000 fine.

He later played an acrophobic fireman in The Towering Inferno, in which his father also starred. Although they had no dialog together because Scott's scenes were with co-star Steve McQueen, both Newmans can be seen in the film's finale. Paul's character is on the steps with Faye Dunaway, and Scott is one of the two firemen carrying a man on a stretcher down the plaza steps to California Street, at the Bank of America building in San Francisco. He also played small parts in various TV series during 1975, such as Marcus Welby, M.D., Harry O and S.W.A.T.; and in the Charles Bronson film, Breakheart Pass.[4]

Newman subsequently appeared in the 1977 film, Fraternity Row, but this was to be his last appearance. His alcoholism became more severe, and by 1978 he was sleeping on friends' floors and working as a laborer.[2] He also tried his hand at cabaret singing in small clubs, billing himself as William Scott.[3] Around this time, he confided to family friend A. E. Hotchner, "It's hell being his son, you know... I don't have his blue eyes. I don't have his talent. I don't have his luck. I don't have anything... that's me."[3]


He suffered a motorcycle accident in the fall of 1978, and was taking painkillers to ease the discomfort of his injuries. He also accepted an offer of psychiatric help, paid for by his father.[3] However, in Los Angeles on the night of November 19, he took a fatal dose of valium with alcohol and other drugs.[3][5] Scott Steinberg, one of the minders appointed by his father, called an ambulance, but Newman was pronounced dead on arrival, the official verdict being an accident.[2] His father later said, "It was the saddest day of my life. The memory of it can never be erased."[2] He told Hotchner: "There's nothing you can say that will repair my guilt about Scott. It will be with me as long as I live."[3]

Scott Newman Center[edit]

In 1980, Paul Newman established the Scott Newman Center, dedicated to helping health care professionals and teachers educate children about the dangers of alcohol and drug use.[1] The organization also initiated the Rowdy Ridge Gang Camp, a system of summer camps for families recovering from the problems associated with drug use and alcoholism.[6]


  1. ^ a b "Scott Newman Center". Scott Newman Center. Retrieved April 30, 2011. 
  2. ^ a b c d e f g Pendlebury, Richard (September 29, 2008). "Paul Newman's hidden heartache". London, UK: Daily Mail. Retrieved April 29, 2011. 
  3. ^ a b c d e f g h i Watson, Roland; Costello, Miles; Fleming, Sam (February 21, 2010). "A.E. Hotchner, "Paul Newman: the bad father", extracted from his book Paul and Me". London, UK: The Sunday Times. 
  4. ^ "Scott Newman profile". IMDb. Retrieved April 29, 2011. 
  5. ^ "Milestones, December 4, 1978". Time Magazine. December 4, 1978. Retrieved April 29, 2011. 
  6. ^ "Rowdy Ridge Gang Camp". Rowdy Ridge. Retrieved April 30, 2011.