Paul Newman, he of the sparkling blue eyes that made many a heart flutter, was not only a screen legend. Born in 1925, Newman segued his successful film career into one of the most impressive philanthropic endeavors in Hollywood.
Like his equally handsome peer, Robert Redford, Newman managed to get himself kicked out of college – for unruly
behavior. After serving three years in the Navy, Newman returned to his home state of Ohio, finished college, got married and had his first child all by the age of 25. After moving to New York to pursue a professional acting career in the early 1950s, he got work in a variety of small roles on television before breaking into Broadway as an understudy. Film work followed, as did a divorce from his first wife and marriage to actress Joanne Woodward, a union that would go on to become one of the longest in Hollywood history.
Newman’s films spanned nearly 50 years, beginning with The Silver Chalice in 1954 and ending with The Road to Perdition with Tom Hanks in 2002. The years in between saw both great successes and disappointments. Now classic films like Cat on a Hot Tin Roof (for which he received his first Oscar nomination), The Hustler, Cool Hand Luke, Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid, The Sting and The Color of Money (for which he won his first Oscar) are but a smattering of the long list of films in which Newman appeared. Behind the camera, he directed 5 films throughout his career, each starring Woodward.
Newman was a prodigious philanthropist. Beginning in 1982 with a line of salad dressings, his Newman’s Own products went on to become a major brand name with all proceeds going to charity. Some of the many beneficiaries of his efforts include the Hole in the Wall Gang Camps for seriously ill children, Kenyon College, Catholic Relief Services in aid to refugees in Kosovo and an award specifically designed to reward protection of the First Amendment in written form.
Newman was also a race car enthusiast, a liberal political activist and an outspoken proponent of gay marriage. He claimed that his greatest achievement was being placed at #19 on Richard Nixon’s enemies list. Paul Newman died of lung cancer in 2008 and was survived by his wife, Joanne Woodward, five daughters and two grandsons.
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