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Actor Paul Newman’s Lifelong Struggle with Insecurity

The actor Paul Newman was nominated for 10 Academy Awards and won for The Color of Money in 1987. He also received an honorary Oscar in 1986 and the Academy’s Jean Hersholt Humanitarian Award in 1994.

But his life was hardly free of disappointment and tragedy. He wrestled with his drinking, a habit he knew was self-destructive but says “unlocked a lot of things I couldn’t have done without it.” And he was shattered when his son, Scott, who had led a drifting life in his father’s shadow and was receiving psychiatric treatment, died in 1978 at the age of 28.

Decades into his singularly successful career as an actor, Paul Newman offered a frank admission. “I am faced with the appalling fact that I don’t know anything,” he said.

Newman was also dogged by self-doubt, perpetually questioning his choices and plagued by past mistakes. “I’m always anxious about admitting to failure,” he said. “To not being good enough, to not being right.” Newman’s lifelong insecurity is one of the more striking themes to emerge from a posthumous memoir by the actor, titled The Extraordinary Life of an Ordinary Man.

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