researching now, found this:
"Bursting onto the movie scene in the mid-1950s, after first making a splash on Broadway, Newman was one of a generation of young actors who represented a new kind of American man. Before him, the traditional male film stars – Clark Gable, Gary Cooper, Errol Flynn, Jimmy Cagney, John Wayne – weren’t cool; they were actually kind of square. But what they lacked in diffidence, they made up in command. As Joan Didion once wrote of Wayne, but was equally true of them all: “In John Wayne’s world, John Wayne was supposed to give the orders.” These men asserted themselves – in romance, in war, in work, in society – because that’s what men did then: be tough and uncomplicated. Wayne and company weren’t racked by self-doubt or tormented by their shortcomings. Alpha males all, they exuded certainty and power. In a sense they were pre-Freudian, even pre-psychological: streamlined manifestations of American confidence. They couldn’t be stopped.
Newman’s generation was different. Where John Wayne was big, hard, stubborn, self-assured, and self-righteous, boldly lumbering into action, Newman and his confederates were small, soft, malleable, self-doubting, and ironic (about the last word one would use to describe Wayne), sliding their way edgewise into a scene. This attitude was identified as cool, and it was. Where the previous generation of actors always seemed to be on a mission, these young actors were disdainful toward everything – everything, that is, except themselves. They certainly didn’t believe in missions, and their contempt was a large part of their appeal to other alienated young men in the 1950s and early 1960s. What they had was a sense of superiority, as if they had understood something that the John Waynes hadn’t; namely, that nothing was worth the kind of energy Wayne and the others expended, nothing was worth the sacrifice or the risk or the faith. Not anymore.
In their cynicism, these were new men for a new age – a less arrogant, more anxious nuclear postwar world in which Freud was very much in evidence and you faced down danger not by vanquishing it, as John Wayne did, but by denying or ignoring it. In any case, they felt that the greatest dangers weren’t outside them; they were within them in their own roiled psyches. That’s why Newman and his contemporaries even felt compelled to adopt a different of acting. The old stars worked from the outside in – makeup, accents, body language – which was perfectly appropriate when the threats were external and you were going mano a mano with the world. The new stars were proponents of the Stanislavsky Method, which taught one to work from the inside out, and which was more appropriate when the threats were internal and you were wrestling with yourself.
Competing against them for roles, Newman would inevitably and repeatedly be compared to two other stars of this generation, James Dean and Marlon Brando, whom he physically resembled. Newman once told a reporter that he had signed 500 autographs “Marlon Brando” and quipped, “Two years ago they thought I was Jimmy Dean.” Like them he was regarded as another young, moody, misunderstood, tormented rebel who challenged the stultifying social order of 1950s America------