Barry Newman, who propelled a supercharged Dodge Challenger across the American West in The vanishing point and portrayed a lawyer in the NBC series Petrocelli, has passed away. He turned 92.
Newman died May 11 at NewYork-Presbyterian Columbia University Irving Medical Center, his wife, Angela, told The Hollywood Reporter.
After appearing on Broadway and playing the lead role The lawyer (1970), the Boston-born actor was ready for a change of pace when he was offered the role of a man tasked with hauling a car from Denver to San Francisco in the action-packed Fox movie The vanishing point (1971), directed by Richard C. Sarafian.
“This was very unique,” he says said. “I had just made this movie about a lawyer, a Harvard graduate, and I thought this was something different. The man was the rebel, the anti-hero. I really enjoyed doing that.”
Newman’s taciturn character, Kowalski, was a Vietnam veteran, former stock car driver, and dishonorably discharged cop with nothing to lose. Loaded with amphetamines, he tries to drive a white 1970 Dodge Challenger R/T 440 Magnum to his destination as quickly as possible.
Vanishing point was shot over eight weeks and has become an admired cult classic, with Steven Spielberg calling it one of his favorite movies.
Attorney Anthony Petrocelli was first introduced by Newman in The lawyer in a story loosely based on the infamous 1954 case in which Cleveland neurosurgeon Sam Sheppard was initially convicted of the brutal murder of his wife.
Four years later, Newman returned as the maverick lawyer in the television movie Night games and then in the Arizona set Petrocelli which ran for two seasons, from September 1974 through March 1976.
More recently, Newman appeared in films like Sylvester Stallone starring Daylight (1996), Bow finger (1999), Steven Soderberghs The Limey (1999) and 40 days and 40 nights (2002).
Barry Foster Newman was born on November 7, 1930. His father, Carl, managed the local outpost of The Latin Quarter nightclub. He graduated from Boston Latin School and Brandeis University, played saxophone and clarinet in the United States Army band, and studied acting with Lee Strasberg after turning down the idea of becoming an anthropologist.
In 1957 he made his Broadway debut as a jazz musician in the Herman Wouk comedy The way of nature and a year later, Alice Ghostley appeared in it Maybe Tuesdaywritten by Mel Tolkin and Lucille Kallen from Your show of shows fame.
In 1964-65, playing tough assistant director Sheik Orsini opposite Steve Lawrence in Budd Schulberg’s musical adaptation What makes Sammy run?he also played a young lawyer in the CBS daytime drama The edge of the night before being fired after an argument with an executive. (His character was sent to a sanitarium.)
Newman had also appeared on stage in Agatha Christie’s The mousetraplike a gangster Beautiful boy Floyd (1960) and on shows like The defenders, Naked city And Get smart when he overlined The lawyerdirected and co-written by Sidney J. Furie.
The vanishing point didn’t cause much of a stir in the US, but when it opened in London at the Leicester Square Theatre, “people lined up to see it,” he told Paul Rowlands in a 2019 interview. and in America I was just a man collecting his bags at the airplane terminal!
“It opened back up in America after playing Europe and people started getting into the movie at that point. It became a cult movie without me realizing it. To this day I am always asked to talk about something.”
1972 releases featured Newman as the lead Fear is keythat one, please vanishing point, also featured a thrilling car chase and the CIA thriller The Salzburg connection.
His work also included turns in the 1980s King crab and several other television movies; the cinema City on fire (1979), Amy (1981) and Good advice (2001); and the series LA law, Murder she wrote, The autumn man And The OC., where he played Professor Max Bloom.
Newman’s career was cut short after being diagnosed with vocal cord cancer in 2009, but he recently reunited with writer-director Furie to star in the independent film Find Hannah (2022).