American icon Paul Newman has died. He was 83. The man of many talents, actor, director, race car driver, entrepreneur, and activist lost his battle with cancer yesterday at his home in Connecticut. His wife of 50 years, Oscar-winning actress Joanne Woodward, was with him as were the other members of his family and their close friends.
Paul Newman, born in 1925 in Ohio, was the son of a Jewish father and a Catholic mother. He served three years in the Navy during WWII, a fact not often listed in his resume. His father’s death resulted in Newman and his brother inheriting an interest in his father’s sporting goods store. Not satisfied with the retail life, Paul sold his interest in the company to his brother Arthur, and moved his wife Jacqueline Witte and their young family to Connecticut where he enrolled at the Yale School of Drama. He later moved to New York to continue his studies and pursue what would become one of the most successful acting career ever.
Paul Newman’s acting career includes several Oscar nominated performances including “Cool Hand Luke”, “Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid”, and “The Long Hot Summer”. His only Oscar win was for his role in “The Color of Money”, which came 20 years into his amazing career. He was the recipient of two honorary Oscars, numerous Emmy awards, and other film awards.He was active in theater and film until this spring when he announced his retirement. At that time, he cited getting older as his reason for retiring and did not mention his cancer. Throughout his illness, Newman did not draw attention to the seriousness of his disease, preferring to downplay his declining health.
Newman’s passion for life led him to try many different things including auto racing. He’d been turned onto it during his work on the film “Winning”. Never able to do anything half way, he turned pro in 1977 at the age of 52 and two years later took second place in the famous Le Mans race. Paul Newman continued to participate in professional auto racing until just a few years ago. He participated in the grueling race 24-Hours of Daytona several times, finally winning in 1995 at the age of 70.
His company, Newman’s Own, started in 1982 selling salad dressing based on Newman’s own recipe. Fifteen years later, Newman’s Own donated $200 million to charity. From its inception, all profits from the company are donated to charities and non-profits, primarily dealing with children’s issues. His charitable spirit has gone beyond just giving money. Newman established The Hole in the Wall Gang camps for children with life threatening illnesses in several U.S. states and in Europe and spent a portion of each year at the camps. To date there are 11 such camps.
Married twice, Paul Newman was the father of five daughters and one son, Scott, who died of a drug overdose in 1978. Newman established a foundation in his son’s name that finances anti-drug films, which are used as educational tools for children.