PAUL Newman, the legendary American actor who died on September 26, was born in Shaker Heights, Ohio, but his mother – whose birth name was Terézia Fecková – was born in the Slovak town of Humenné. The actor’s grandmother is buried there and some of his relatives still live there, the Pravda daily wrote.
“His Slovak relatives 'met' [Newman, through his films] in 1965 for the first time,” Slovak film historian Richard Blech said. “By then, Newman’s film Sweet Bird of Youth had been shown in Humenné.”
Newman never personally visited the town, but knew he had roots in this part of Europe. According to Blech, Newman mentioned his heritage to U.S. journalists who were surprised when he referred to Czecho-Slovak President Václav Havel as “Dear Václav” during his visit to the U.S. in the early 1990s.
Terézia Fecková followed her father to the U.S. at the turn of the 20th century, when she was still a small child. Her mother and grandmother had already died. Her father married in the U.S., as did she – twice. Her first marriage ended in divorce, but the second endured. Her second husband was a furrier named Newman, with whom she had two sons. The older one was named Arthur and the younger one was Paul.
Both sons served in the Pacific during the Second World War. When they returned home in 1946, their mother wrote excited letters to her family in Slovakia. She also sent a family photo, on which she wrote text in the eastern-Slovak dialect.
“She also sent home Paul’s army uniform,” Blech added. “Her sister then re-sewed it into a suit, but the unstitched emblem on the uniform’s sleeve remained preserved.”
6. Oct 2008 at 0:00 | Compiled by Jana Liptáková from press reports