Thursday, May 30, 2024

Paul Newman Suit Mystery Solved: It Was a Costume from “The Color of Money”


A young man named Peter Gamlen found a Henry Stewart custom suit in a New Haven basement this week. A name tag inside of it said “Paul Newman, 1986.” No one could figure it out. Newman lived in Westport, 30 miles southwest of New Haven. He also didn’t wear a lot of fancy clothes. News reports I read were dumbfounded.

How could this have happened? Duh! Here’s my exclusive: Newman shot Martin Scorsese’s “The Color of Money” in 1986. Stewart made him the clothes for the film. How they wound up in New Haven is anyone’s guess–someone bought them from a movie prop auction probably.

In a 1997 New York Magazine article, Stewart’s protege, Frank Shattuck, says Newman loved the “Color of Money” clothes so much he gave Stewart a $2000 tip.

Listen: in the 1980s people really had money and burned through it without thinking twice. It was the height of the Reagan era. The late Steven Greenberg, my friend and boss who owned Fame magazine, lived in Henry Stewart suits. They cost $3,500 for the standard blue pinstripe. This was the “Bonfire of the Vanities” era. People were living it up. Then came the stock market crash in 1987 and it was back to sample sales.

Newman had quite a lovely wardrobe from “The Color of Money.” Here’s a photo example. It’s not the same suit Gamlen found, but looks just as nice if not better.

Shattuck is still in business.  His suits start at $5,800. Stewart is dead. So is the the costume designer for “The Color of Money.” But nowadays, you go to Saint Laurie on West 32nd St. for suits like this–they make all the custom clothes for period piece movies like “Revolutionary Road” and “The Great Gatsby.” Check ’em out. And their suits start around $1,700.


Henry Stewart/Paul Newman photo courtesy of AP.

Roger Friedman
Roger Friedman
Roger Friedman began his Showbiz411 column in April 2009 after 10 years with Fox News, where he created the Fox411 column. His movie reviews are carried by Rotten Tomatoes, and he is a member of both the movie and TV branches of the Critics Choice Awards. His articles have appeared in dozens of publications over the years including New York Magazine, where he wrote the Intelligencer column in the mid 90s and covered the OJ Simpson trial, and Fox News (when it wasn't so crazy) where he covered Michael Jackson. He is also the writer and co-producer of "Only the Strong Survive," a selection of the Cannes, Sundance, and Telluride Film festivals, directed by DA Pennebaker and Chris Hegedus.

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