Legendary Actor Paul Newman Dies

By: Associated Press
By: Associated Press

WESTPORT, Conn. -- He was "Cool Hand Luke" -- but to filmgoers, he was just plain cool.

Actor Paul Newman has died at the age of 83. His publicist says he died Friday at his farmhouse near Westport, Connecticut after a long battle with cancer.

He was often cast as the anti-hero, in films like "Hud" and "The Color of Money." Newman became a favorite with critics for his portrayals of rebels, tough guys and losers.

And in real life, he had a soft spot for underdogs, giving tens of millions to charities through his food company.

He was also famously liberal -- and was proud to have earned a spot on Richard Nixon's "enemies list."

Through a career that began in theater and on TV during the 1950s, Newman's co-stars included Elizabeth Taylor, Tom Cruise and Robert Redford, his sidekick in "Butch Cassidy" and "The Sting."

He also sometimes teamed with his wife, Joanne Woodward. They were married for 50 years.

Newman was a 10-time Oscar nominee, winning once for "The Color of Money" in 1987.

Newman's Own

Newman sought to have an impact not just on the screen, but among people who needed his help.

Through his food company, Newman's Own, he gave tens of millions of dollars to charities.

Newman's Own actually started as a joke. He and a Connecticut neighbor created the company in 1982 to market Newman's original oil & vinegar salad dressing. It grew into a multi-million-dollar business selling dressing, popcorn, spaghetti sauce and other foods. All of the proceeds to go charities. By last year, according to the company's Web site, it had given away more than $175 million.

In 1988, he founded a camp in northeastern Connecticut for children with cancer and other life-threatening diseases. Newman went on to establish similar camps in several other states and in Europe.

In May of last year, even as Newman told ABC that he had given up acting, he said he intended to remain active in charity projects.

Newman and Woodward

A strong, classically handsome face and piercing blue eyes made Paul Newman the classic Hollywood heartthrob. But he also had something rare among such idols: a long-term marriage.

Newman and fellow Oscar-winner Joanne Woodward were married 50 years ago and teamed up in a number of productions. But according to Woodward, it was hardly love at first sight. In a 1990 interview, she told AP Radio that at first she "didn't like him at all," because he was "noisy," talked a lot and she "didn't like pretty men."

Their 1958 wedding came around the same time they both appeared in "The Long Hot Summer." Newman also directed her in several films, including "The Glass Menagerie" and "Rachel, Rachel," which earned Oscar nominations for both of them.

Asked once by Playboy magazine whether he had ever been tempted to stray, Newman said "I have steak at home, why go out for hamburger." Woodward's take: "nobody else would have us."

Newman and Woodward bought an 18th-century farmhouse near Westport, Connecticut, where they raised their three daughters. It was there that he died Friday.

Newman's Good Looks

A director who once worked with Paul Newman said Newman seemed bored by leading-man roles, just as he was bored by his own good looks. Director Sidney Lumet said Newman liked playing "losers and bums," as a way of saying, "There's more to me than what I look like."

Critics agreed. In reviewing Newman's 1977 film "Slap Shot," Pauline Kael compared Newman to Humphrey Bogart, saying they both had limited range -- but that "when a role is right" for Newman, "he's peerless."

Roger Ebert, reviewing "Where the Money Is," said you could see in Newman's eyes "the look of a man who is still driving race cars and can find an opening at 160 miles an hour."

Time magazine, reviewing Newman's 1963 bad-guy role in "Hud," wrote that he "follows his code of don't-give-a-damn with snakelike charm."

Entertainment Weekly wrote that audiences liked Newman because he became "the rebel with a cause" -- and gave audiences a "vicarious thrill by thumbing his nose at an unjust society."

Newman in Car Racing

It's not your typical second career.

Paul Newman became fascinated with auto racing in the 1970s, as he admittedly became bored with acting.

He had starred in the 1969 auto-racing film "Winning," and apparently caught the racing bug.

He turned pro in 1977, and he and his driving team went on to make strong showings in several major races. They finished fifth at Daytona in 1977 and second at Le Mans in 1979.

Newman told People magazine that racing was the best way to "get away from all the rubbish of Hollywood."

He later became a car owner and formed a partnership with Carl Haas. The team hired Mario Andretti as its first driver. It's now part of the IndyCar series, and it has won 107 races and eight series championships.

Reaction

Paul Newman is being remembered by colleagues and admirers inside and outside of Hollywood for his film work and his charity.

Bill and Hillary Rodham Clinton have issued a statement calling Newman an "American icon, philanthropist and champion for children." They say his "continued support always meant the world to us."

Arnold Schwarzenegger describes Newman as "the ultimate cool guy who men wanted to be like and women adored." He says Newman didn't just entertain millions of people -- he "brightened the lives of many more" through his charity work.

Former co-star Robert Redford says he's "lost a real friend." Another, Sally Field, says she was "blessed to have known him." And Eva Marie Saint recalls, "Yes, his eyes were that blue and beautiful."

David Letterman says Newman was "a very fine actor and a really good race driver" -- who also "personified humanity" in "taking care of those who were less fortunate."

Newman's five daughters describe him as "a rare symbol of selfless humility" who "succeeded beyond measure in impacting the lives of so many with his generosity."


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