Hollywood and the world lost another pair of blue eyes with the loss of Paul Newman Friday after a lenghty battle with cancer. According to publicist Jeff Sanderson, he was surrounded by family and friends at his farmhouse near Westport; Paul Newman was 83 years old.
Throughout most of his career, Newman has been known to portray characters with a maverick streak yet has a face that only mothers can love. Films like Cool Hand Luke (1967) and Butch Sundance and the Sundance Kid (1969) cemented his status as a leading man, a sex symbol, and an icon during the era of the “anti-hero.”
Newman also starred in other memorable films, such as The Hustler (1960) with Jackie Gleason, The Sting (1972), Slap Shot (1977) and The Verdict (1982). The actor was also known for his role as “Fast Eddie” in The Hustler and The Color of Money (1986) with Tom Cruise, of which he won an Oscar for the latter.
Despite his good looks, Newman won the respect of critics for his performance throughout his film career, which has spanned over four decades. “I was always a character actor” he once stated. “I just looked like Little Red Riding Hood.” He even took on supporting roles such as 2006’s Disney-Pixar Cars, lending his voice as a crusty 1951 car mentoring a hotshot stock-car (voice of Owen Wilson).
Hollywood has been known for finding the “next big thing” due to youth, but Newman went on to age with grace and humility, and continued to maintain a successful movie career as well as a female following.
Newman has also been known his charity work, advocating civil rights, and opposing the Vietnam War. He also had a second career as a race-car driver in the late 70s. Racing is the best way I know to get away from all the rubbish of Hollywood” he said to People in 1979.
Newman started his own company in 1982 with Westport neighbor, writer A.E. Hotchner called Newman’s Own, which went on to become successful in selling popcorn, salad dressing, and other foods. According to its website, it donated more $175 million last year.
Last May, he announced his retirement from acting on Good Morning America but continued to be involved with charity. “I’m not able to work anymore as an actor at the level I would want to” he said. “You start to lose your memory, your confidence, your invention. So that’s pretty much a closed book for me.”
Newman is survived by his second wife and frequent co-star, Joanne Woodward. They were married in 1958, and had been together ever since — an eternity by Hollywood standards. The couple had three daughters: Elinor “Nell,” Melissa and Clea. Newman is also survived by two daughters from a previous marriage to Jacqueline Witte, Susan and Stephanie (his only son Scott died from an accidental overdose in 1978); two grandsons, and an older brother, Arthur.