• Paul Newman apologized for his first Hollywood film, “The Silver Chalice,” through ads in 1963, expressing regret for his performance.
  • Despite Newman’s attempt to discourage viewers from watching the TV broadcast of “The Silver Chalice,” it unexpectedly garnered high ratings.
  • Even after achieving great success, Paul Newman still remembered and was disappointed by the failure of “The Silver Chalice” at the beginning of his film career.

Movie star Paul Newman took out ads to apologize for his 1954 box office failure, but this publicity accidentally turned its first TV broadcast into a massive success. Oscar-winning actor Paul Newman starred in some of the greatest movies of all time during the 1960s and 1970s, with memorable on-screen roles in movies like Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid and The Hustler as well as notable ventures behind the camera such as directing Rachel, Rachel. However, despite how popular Newman’s films remain, the movie star had one project early in his career that he wasn’t proud of, which he even felt warranted a public apology.

After getting his start on the stage, Paul Newman’s debut Hollywood film role was in 1954’s Biblical epic The Silver Chalice, which saw him portray the character Basil. The Silver Chalice infamously flopped at the 1954 box office and was panned by critics, becoming a disappointment for Newman’s first movie outing. Newman wasn’t shy about his personal disappointment in the movie, especially when it was due to be broadcast on television nine years later. In 1963, Paul Newman purchased an ad slot in a Hollywood trade paper discouraging audiences from watching the TV airing of The Silver Chalice, but this effort backfired.

Related: Why Robert Redford and Paul Newman Never Made A Third Movie Together

Why Paul Newman Took Out Ads To Keep People From Watching 1954’s The Silver Chalice On TV

The Silver Chalice 1954 Paul Newman

Carla Valderrama’s 2020 book This Was Hollywood explains that Paul Newman purchased ads in January 1963 as a “community service” to prevent audiences from watching The Silver Chalice’s TV debut. Newman notably disliked his first feature film both for the movie’s overall quality and his own performance, despite the fact that the role earned him a Golden Globe nomination for Most Promising Male Newcomer. In his 1963 advertisements apologizing for The Silver Chalice, the actor expressed regret for his performance and urged audiences to avoid watching the movie when it aired on television. According to the Irish Film Institute, Newman later called The Silver Chalicethe worst motion picture produced during the 1950s.”

After The Silver Chalice debuted, Newman was worried that his “acting career had begun and ended in the same picture.” Although Newman disliked his performance and the movie itself, The Silver Chalice didn’t harm the promising actor’s career. Following The Silver Chalice’s 1954 failure, iconic Hollywood actor Paul Newman was cast in the 1956 film Somebody Up There Likes Me, which went on to receive multiple Oscar nominations and launched him into becoming a movie star. Newman’s charisma and acting skills were evident even in the 1954 flop, as evidenced by the fact that his attempts to keep audiences from watching it on TV backfired.

Paul Newman’s 1963 Apology Backfired & The Silver Chalice Had Unexpectedly High TV Ratings

The Silver Chalice Poster Paul Newman

After begging the public to not watch The Silver Chalice, the ads backfired and Newman noted that it ended up having the “highest rating of anything on TV that week.” For all the money that drama and Western movie star Paul Newman had spent on the ads about it, audiences wanted to know what he was apologizing about. Unfortunately for Newman, The Silver Chalice had much higher ratings than expected when debuting on television, which likely wouldn’t have happened if he had ignored the broadcast altogether.

This Was Hollywood also notes that over a decade after the movie’s television debut backfiring, Newman had a private showing of The Silver Chalice at his home in the late 1970s. Inviting his friends to see the film, he gave his guests “metal pots and wooden spoons to beat on them with.” Newman remarked that the first reel of the screening was fun, but “then the awfulness of the thing took over.” Despite becoming one of the greatest movie stars in Hollywood history, Paul Newman would never forget the beginning of his film career and his disappointment in The Silver Chalice.

Sources: This Was Hollywood, IFI

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