Paul Leonard Newman (January 26, 1925 – September 26, 2008) was an American actor, film director, race car driver, and entrepreneur. He was the recipient of numerous awards, including an Academy Award, a BAFTA Award, three Golden Globe Awards, a Screen Actors Guild Award, a Primetime Emmy Award, the Cecil B. DeMille Award, and the Jean Hersholt Humanitarian Award.
Newman won several national championships as a driver in Sports Car Club of America road racing, and his race teams won several championships in open-wheel IndyCar racing. He was also a committed philanthropist, co-founding Newman's Own, a food company from which he donated all post-tax profits and royalties to charity. As of July 2019, these donations have totaled over US$550 million.
Newman was born January 26, 1925, in Shaker Heights, Ohio, the second son of Theresa Garth(1894–1982) and Arthur Sigmund Newman Sr. (1893–1950), who ran a sporting goods store where her mother worked as well. His father was Jewish, Paul's mother was a practitioner of Christian Science. Newman practised no religion as an adult, but described himself as a Jew.
Newman showed an early interest in the theater; his first role was at the age of seven, playing the court jester in a school production of Robin Hood. At age 10, Newman performed at the Cleveland Play House in a production of Saint George and the Dragon. In 1943, he briefly attended Ohio University in Athens, Ohio, where he was initiated into the Phi Kappa Tau fraternity.
Newman served in the United States Navy in World War II in the Pacific theater. Initially, he enrolled in the Navy V-12 pilot training program at Yale University, but was dropped when his colorblindness was discovered.
After the war, Newman completed his Bachelor of Arts degree in drama and economics at Kenyon College in Gambier, Ohio in 1949 and later attended the Yale School of Drama for one year.
In 1949, Newman married Jackie Witte. They had a son, Scott (1950–1978), and two daughters, Susan (born 1953) and Stephanie Kendall (born 1954). Scott died in November 1978 from a drug overdose. Newman started the Scott Newman Center for drug abuse prevention in memory of his son.
In 1951, Newman decided to move with his family to New York City to study under Lee Strasberg at the Actors Studio
He made his Broadway theater debut in the original production of William Inge's Picnic with Kim Stanley in 1953.
During this time Newman also started acting in television. His first credited role was in a 1952 episode of Tales of Tomorrow entitled "Ice from Space".
In February 1954, Newman appeared in a screen test with James Dean for East of Eden (1955). Dean won his part, but Newman did not. After James Dean's death, Newman replaced Dean in the role of a boxer in a television adaptation of Hemingway's story "The Battler", written by A. E. Hotchner(who later would become his friend and business partner), that was broadcast live on October 18, 1955. That performance led to his breakthrough role as Rocky Graziano in the film Somebody Up There Likes Me in 1956. Newman garnered much attention and acclaim for his role.
In 1957, Newman starred in The Long, Hot Summer for which he won Best Actor at the 1958 Cannes Film Festival. While filming, he reconnected with his co-star Joanne Woodward whom he met a few years ago.
Newman met actress Joanne Woodward in 1953, on the production of Picnic on Broadway. It was Newman's debut; Woodward was an understudy.
Shortly after filming The Long, Hot Summer in 1957, he divorced Jackie Witte and married Woodward in early 1958. They bought a home in Westport, Connecticut, one of the first Hollywood movie star couples to choose to raise their families outside California. They had three daughters: Elinor "Nell" Teresa (b. 1959), Melissa "Lissy" Stewart (b. 1961), and Claire "Clea" Olivia (b. 1965). Newman was well known for his devotion to his wife and family.
After his marriage to Woodward they appeared together in movies such as From the Terrace (1960), Paris Blues (1961), A New Kind of Love (1963), Winning (1969), WUSA (1970), Harry & Son (1984), and Mr. and Mrs. Bridge (1990). He also directed four feature films starring his wife Woodward.
In 1958, Newman garnered his first Academy Award nomination for his role in Cat on a Hot Tin Roof (1958)a box-office smash, opposite Elizabeth Taylor.
But his major films are mostly in the 60s and 70s, such as The Hustler (1961), Hud (1963), Harper (1966), Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid (1969), and leading roles in The Sting (1973), The Towering Inferno (1974), Slap Shot (1977), The Verdict (1982), etc.
Twenty-five years after The Hustler, Newman reprised his role of "Fast Eddie" Felson in the Martin Scorsese–directed film The Color of Money (1986), for which he won the Academy Award for Best Actor after being nominated 10 times.
In 2003, Newman appeared in a Broadway revival of Wilder's Our Town, receiving his first Tony Award nomination for his performance.
Newman's last movie appearance was as a conflicted mob boss in the 2002 film Road to Perdition opposite Tom Hanks, for which he was nominated for an Academy Award for Best Supporting Actor. His last onscreen appearance was in 2005 in the HBO mini-series Empire Falls for which he won a Golden Globe and a Primetime Emmy.
Newman retired from acting in May 2007.
Since his success in Hollywood, Paul Newman had been actively involved in philanthropy.
In 1982, Newman founded Newman's Own with his friend With writer A. E. Hotchner. The brand started with salad dressing and has expanded to include pasta sauce, lemonade, popcorn, salsa, and wine, among other things. Newman established a policy that all proceeds, after taxes, would be donated to charity. He co-wrote a memoir about the subject with Hotchner, Shameless Exploitation in Pursuit of the Common Good.
Since then until his death, Paul Newman kept donating generously to various charities, institutions and causes.
In 1983, Newman became a Major Donor for The Mirror Theater Ltd, alongside Dustin Hoffman and Al Pacino, matching a grant from Laurence Rockefeller. Newman was inspired to invest by his connection with Lee Strasberg, as Lee's then daughter-in-law Sabra Jones was the Founder and Producing Artistic Director of The Mirror. Paul Newman remained a friend of the company until his death and discussed at numerous times possible productions in which he could star with his wife, Joanne Woodward.
In June 1999, Newman donated $250,000 to Catholic Relief Services to aid refugees in Kosovo.
On June 1, 2007, Kenyon College of which Newman once a student, announced that Newman had donated $10 million to the school to establish a scholarship fund as part of the college's $230 million fund-raising campaign. Newman and Woodward were honorary co-chairs of a previous campaign.
Newman was named the Most Generous Celebrity of 2008 by Givingback.org. He contributed $20,857,000 for the year of 2008 to the Newman's Own Foundation, which distributes funds to a variety of charities.
In June 2008, it was widely reported in the press that Newmann had been diagnosed with lung cancer and was receiving treatment for the condition at the Sloan-Kettering hospital in New York City. A. E. Hotchner, told the Associated Press in an interview in mid-2008 that Newman had told him about being afflicted with the disease about 18 months earlier. The actor was a heavy cigarette smoker until he quit in 1986.
Paul Newman died on the morning of September 26, 2008, surrounded by friends and family. He was 83 years old.
At the time of his death, he had been married to his wife Joanne Woodward for 50 years. Newman has attributed their relationship success to "some combination of lust and respect and patience. And determination."
Paul Newman was cremated after a private funeral service near his home in Westport, Connecticut.