Paul Leonard Newman, Actor and Film director, Died at 83

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Dead, Paul Leonard Newman on September 26, 2008 at the age of 83, he was an American actor, film director, entrepreneur, professional racing driver and team owner; he was also an environmentalist, activist, and philanthropist.

Born on January 26, 1925 in Shaker Heights, Ohio, an affluent suburb of Cleveland, he was the second son of Theresa (née Fetzer, Fetzko, or Fetsko; Slovak: Terézia Fecková; died 1982) and Arthur Sigmund Newman (1894–1950), who ran a profitable sporting goods store.

Newman served in the United States Navy in World War II in the Pacific theatre. Initially, he enrolled in the Navy V-12 pilot training program at Yale University, but was dropped when his colour-blindness was discovered.

Boot camp followed, with training as a radioman and rear gunner. Qualifying in torpedo bombers in 1944, Aviation Radioman Third Class Newman was sent to Barbers Point, Hawaii.

He was subsequently assigned to Pacific-based replacement torpedo squadrons VT-98, VT-99, and VT-100, responsible primarily for training replacement combat pilots and air crewmen, with special emphasis on carrier landings.

After the war, Newman completed his Bachelor of Arts degree in drama and economics at Kenyon College in 1949. Shortly after earning his degree, Newman joined several summer stock companies, most notably the Belfry Players in Wisconsin and the Woodstock Players in Illinois.

He toured with them for three months and developed his talents as a part of Woodstock Players. Newman later attended the Yale School of Drama for one year, before moving to New York City to study under Lee Strasberg at the Actors Studio.

In 1957, with a handful of films to his credit, he was cast in The Long, Hot Summer (1958), co-starring none other than Joanne Woodward.

During the shooting of this film, they realized they were meant to be together and by now, so did Paul’s wife Jackie. After Jackie gave Paul a divorce, he and Joanne married in Las Vegas in January of 1958.

They went on to have three daughters together and raised them in Westport, Connecticut.

In 1959, Paul received his first Academy Award nomination for Best Actor, in Cat on a Hot Tin Roof (1958).

The 1960s would bring Paul Newman into superstar status, as he became one of the most popular actors of the decade, and garnered three more Best Actor Oscar nominations, for The Hustler (1961), Hud (1963) and Cool Hand Luke (1967).

In 1968, his debut directorial effort Rachel, Rachel (1968) was given good marks, and although the film and Joanne Woodward were nominated for Oscars, Newman was not nominated for Best Director.

He did, however, win a Golden Globe for his direction. 1969 brought the popular screen duo Paul Newman and Robert Redford together for the first time when Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid (1969) were released.

It was a box office smash. Throughout the 1970s, Newman had hits and misses from such popular films as The Sting (1973) and The Towering Inferno (1974) to lesser known films as The Life and Times of Judge Roy Bean (1972) to a now cult classic Slap Shot (1977).

After the death of his only son, Scott, in 1978, Newman’s personal life and film choices moved in a different direction.

His acting work in the 1980s and on is what is often most praised by critics today. He became more at ease with himself and it was evident in The Verdict (1982) for which he received his 6th Best Actor Oscar nomination and in 1987 finally received his first Oscar for The Colour of Money (1986).

With writer A. E. Hotchner, Newman founded Newman’s Own, a line of food products, in 1982. 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. As of 2014, the franchise has donated in excess of $400 million.

He co-wrote a memoir about the subject with Hotchner, Shameless Exploitation in Pursuit of the Common Good.

Among other awards, Newman’s Own co-sponsors the PEN/Newman’s Own First Amendment Award, a $25,000 reward designed to recognize those who protect the First Amendment as it applies to the written word.

 

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