Newman, David 1937-2003

views updated

NEWMAN, David 1937-2003

OBITUARY NOTICE—See index for CA sketch: Born February 4, 1937, in New York, NY; died of a stroke June 27, 2003, in New York, NY. Editor and author. Newman was best known as a screenwriter, especially for his film credit for the landmark 1967 movie Bonnie and Clyde. A graduate of the University of Michigan, he earned his bachelor's degree there in 1958 and a master's degree the following year. He then joined the staff at Esquire magazine as an editor in 1960. It was there that he met his future collaborator, Robert Benton. The two writers were noted early on for cowriting the column "Man Talk" and for creating the Dubious Achievement Award, which is still awarded today and which became famous for Newman's catch phrase, "Why is this man laughing?" Newman and Benton also collaborated on the book Extremism: A Non Book (1964) and the 1966 Broadway play It's a Bird, It's a Plane, It's Superman (1966), but they hit it big with their first screenplay, Bonnie and Clyde. The film initially drew a negative reaction from most critics, who deplored the apparent glamorization of violence and the film's lightweight treatment of the notorious Depression Era criminals Bonnie Parker and Clyde Barrow. However, audiences loved the film, and it was recognized with numerous awards for writing, including a Writers Guild of America award, a New York Film Critics Best Screenplay Award, and a National Film Critics Best Screenplay Award; it was also nominated for an Oscar. Newman and Benton became celebrities and were signed to a three-movie deal with Warner Bros. which led to their films There Was a Crooked Man (1969), Hubba, Hubba; or, Will the Big Bands Ever Come Back? (1968), and What's Up, Doc? (1971). Newman and Benton also wrote Bad Company (1972), Stab (1981), and Still of the Night (1983), as well as working on the 1978 Christopher Reeve movie Superman. Newman's wife, Leslie, joined Mario Puzo in contributing to the first Superman film, and Newman and his wife completed the next two Superman films together. Despite his involvement in the trio of popular movies about the Man of Steel, Newman found it hard to repeat the blockbuster success of Bonnie and Clyde. His last works include the 1997 Tony-nominated musical The Life and the 1985 Dudley Moore film, Santa Clause: The Movie. At the end of the twentieth century Bonnie and Clyde was ranked by the American Film Institute as among the one hundred best American films ever made.



Contemporary Dramatists, fourth edition, St. James Press (Detroit, MI), 1988.

Contemporary Theatre, Film, and Television, Volume 5, Gale (Detroit, MI), 1988.


Chicago Tribune, June 29, 2003, section 4, p. 11.

Independent (London, England), June 30, 2003, p. 16.

Los Angeles Times, June 30, 2003, p. B9.

New York Times, June 28, 2003, p. A12.

Washington Post, June 29, 2003, p. C11.

About this article

Newman, David 1937-2003

Updated About content Print Article