Paul Newman: A Legacy of Talent and Philanthropy
Paul Leonard Newman (January 26, 1925 – September 26, 2008) was a multifaceted American talent known for his work as an actor, director, entrepreneur, philanthropist, race car driver, and a member of a successful American motorsports team. He was of Jewish descent and achieved critical acclaim, winning an Academy Award and six Golden Globe Awards in his illustrious career. Newman also made a name for himself in the world of auto racing.
Paul Newman was born in Cleveland, Ohio, to a Slovak-Catholic mother, Teresa, and a Jewish father, Arthur. After completing high school, he served in the U.S. Navy as a radio operator in the Pacific during World War II.
Following his military service, he enrolled in college in Ohio, graduating with a bachelor's degree in 1949. However, shortly after, Newman's father passed away, and he returned to his hometown to manage his parents' sporting goods store.
After a brief stint in the business world, in 1953, Newman decided to pursue his passion for acting. He enrolled in a master's program in drama at Yale University, subsequently moving to Connecticut.
A year later, he relocated to New York, where he honed his acting skills at the Actors Studio under the guidance of Lee Strasberg. In 1951, he made his television debut in CBS's production of "The Aldrich Family." Two years later, he made his Broadway debut in the play "Picnic," which marked the beginning of his association with Warner Bros.
Newman's first film, "The Silver Chalice," was a critical failure, but he won a Golden Globe Award for "Most Promising Newcomer." He returned two years later with "Somebody Up There Likes Me," portraying the boxer Rocky Graziano. Over the next few years, Newman starred in several cinematic classics, including "Cat on a Hot Tin Roof" (based on Tennessee Williams' play), which earned him his first Academy Award nomination.
In 1961, he appeared in "Paris Blues" as a jazz musician, co-starring with his wife, Joanne Woodward. In 1962, he starred in "Sweet Bird of Youth," another adaptation of a Tennessee Williams play directed by Richard Brooks.
Newman played the role of Ari Ben Canaan in the 1960 film "Exodus," directed by Otto Preminger, based on Leon Uris's best-selling novel about the establishment of Israel. Newman came to Israel to film parts of the movie, which contributed to its success and helped raise awareness of Israel's struggle for independence.
In 1957, he appeared alongside Joanne Woodward in "Until They Sail." In 1959, he had a leading role in "The Young Philadelphians" alongside Robert Vaughn.
In 1963, Newman starred in "Hud" and "A New Kind of Love" with Joanne Woodward.
In 1967, he appeared in "Cool Hand Luke" alongside George Kennedy and Jo Van Fleet, earning an Academy Award nomination for his role. In 1969, Newman, along with Steve McQueen, Sidney Poitier, and Barbra Streisand, founded First Artists Production Company, a film production company owned by actors.
One of Paul Newman's most memorable films is "The Sting," a comedy directed by George Roy Hill, in which he starred alongside Robert Redford. The film won seven Academy Awards but, surprisingly, Newman did not win an Oscar for his role. In 1981, he appeared in "Absence of Malice" with Sally Field.
In 1986, he starred in Martin Scorsese's "The Color of Money," alongside a young Tom Cruise, reprising his role from "The Hustler" (1961). For his performance in this film, Newman finally won the Academy Award for Best Actor. Other notable films include "The Verdict," "The Road to Perdition," and "Nobody's Fool," for which he received additional Oscar nominations.
Newman also directed several films, including "Rachel, Rachel," starring Joanne Woodward, and "The Effect of Gamma Rays on Man-in-the-Moon Marigolds."
In his later years, Newman became more selective about his roles, appearing in only a few films that particularly interested him. In 2002, he starred in "Road to Perdition," a role that earned him an Oscar nomination for Best Supporting Actor.
In 2005, he appeared in the television film "Empire Falls" and provided the voice for the character of Doc Hudson in the animated film "Cars." "Cars" turned out to be his highest-grossing film in his career.
Paul Newman passed away at his home in Westport, Connecticut, at the age of 83, succumbing to lung cancer. His ashes were cremated.
Personal Life and Family
Newman was married twice. His first wife, Jacqueline Witte, bore him three children: Scott, Susan, and Stephanie. Scott Newman acted in several films, including "The Towering Inferno."
Susan Kendall, his daughter, became a documentary filmmaker and appeared in Broadway productions and films. Stephanie Newman, known as Nell Potts, played the lead role alongside Joanne Woodward in the film adaptation of Tennessee Williams' "The Effect of Gamma Rays on Man-in-the-Moon Marigolds."
His second wife, Joanne Woodward, whom he married in 1958, was his lifelong partner. They had three daughters: Elinor "Nell" Teresa (1959), Melissa "Lissy" Stewart (1961), and Claire "Clea" Olivia (1965). Elinor pursued an acting career under the stage name Nell Potts, appearing in "The Effect of Gamma Rays on Man-in-the-Moon Marigolds," directed by her father in 1972.
In the 1980s, Paul Newman founded "Newman's Own," a successful food company known for its pasta sauces and salad dressings. All the company's profits were dedicated to charitable causes. He also established the Scott Newman Center, dedicated to combating drug addiction and alcoholism, after his son's tragic death from a drug overdose in 1978.
In 1988, Newman founded the international network of recreational camps known as "SeriousFun Children's Network," which provides opportunities for children facing chronic illnesses and life-threatening diseases.
Paul Newman's legacy extends beyond his remarkable career in entertainment. His philanthropic work and dedication to helping others have left an indelible mark on society, making him a beloved figure both on and off the screen.
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