Edward “Eddie” Newman, who died Saturday at age 89, was, as his obituaries noted, the physician to some of Chicago’s most notable figures—including Mayor Richard M. Daley, real estate magnate Arthur Rubloff, and famed Chicago Bears quarterback Sid Luckman—as well as to a cavalcade of celebrities including Bill Cosby, Sammy Davis, Jr., Henry Fonda, and Jack Benny.
When I embarked on profiles for Chicago magazine of Sun-Times gossip columnist Irv Kupcinet and Sun-Times (then-Trib) advice columnist Ann Landers (aka Eppie Lederer), Eddie Newman topped the list of people I was told I must talk to. My sources said he was an inveterate gossip, but in a good, old-fashioned way—not mean or vindictive, but observant and vitally interested in the social connections that fuel business and celebrity life.
Newman, who often accompanied Kupcinet on the columnist’s frequent visits to the ER, described his patient as “the most well-connected man I’ve ever met… who never wrote ill of anybody unless you were John Dillinger.”
While Newman was never Eppie’s doctor, one of her closest pals told me he was the doctor to all of her friends, and the two were neighbors on East Lake Shore Drive.
When I called the doc in October 2002 to set up an interview for my profile of Eppie, who had died the previous June, he was friendly and full of himself. He told me he was best friends with everybody and that “he knows everything.” I asked if I could take him to lunch, and he blustered, “Nobody takes me to lunch.” I suggested then that he take me, and he told me to meet him at the International Club in the Drake Hotel where he dined regularly (as had Eppie).
I put fresh batteries in my recorder, paid more attention to my clothes than I normally do, and met him at the Drake on October 14th, 2002. I expected a juicy interview, one so full of anecdotes that I’d have to keep a poker face lest I give away that he was talking too much.
But he said next to nothing. He told me that his son, Steven, Maggie Daley’s doctor, was “the busiest oncologist in town”—and not much more. I was bewildered until later that day, when a prominent Chicago social figure told me that, on the elevator down to the restaurant from his apartment in the Drake Tower, Newman met a socialite who heard he was headed to lunch with me and warned him not to talk. She told Newman that Eppie’s daughter, Margo Howard, was opposed to the profile and was asking sources not to talk to me.
In the Sun-Times’ obituary of Newman, City Hall reporter Fran Spielman quoted Newman’s daughter, Mary Ann Moseley: “He never censored anything. He told you exactly what he thought. He would say the exact thing that was in his head.”
Nope, not that time.