A screen legend, superstar, and the man with the most famous blue eyes in movie history.
The Silver Chalice
The Helen Morgan Story
Until They Sail
The Long, Hot Summer
The Left Handed Gun
Rally ‘Round the Flag, Boys!
From the Terrace
Hemingway’s Adventures of a Young Man
A New Kind of Love
What a Way to Go!
The Secret War of Harry Frigg
The Life and Times of Judge Roy Bean
The Mackintosh Man
The Drowning Pool
Buffalo Bill and the Indians
When Time Ran Out…
Fort Apache, The Bronx
Absence of Malice
Come Along with Me
Harry & Son
Fat Man and Little Boy
Mr. and Mrs. Bridge
La Classe américaine
The Hudsucker Proxy
Message in a Bottle
Where the Money Is
Road to Perdition
Magnificent Desolation: Walking on the Moon 3D
Mater and the Ghost Light
Paul Newman was nominated for ten competitive Academy Awards and won one. Seven in the category of Best Actor in a Leading Role:
- Cat on a Hot Tin Roof (1958)
- The Hustler (1961)
- Hud (1963)
- Cool Hand Luke (1967)
- Absence of Malice (1981)
- The Verdict (1982)
- The Color of Money (1986) – WON
- Nobody’s Fool (1994)
One for Best Picture Rachel, Rachel (1968) (as producer) and one Best Actor in a Supporting Role for Road to Perdition (2002).
In 1986, he received an honorary Academy Award “In recognition of his many and memorable and compelling screen performances and for his personal integrity and dedication to his craft. ” Paul Newman was not present at the awards ceremony. He gave his acceptance speech via satellite from Chicago.
In 1994, he received the Jean Hersholt Humanitarian Award.
The embarrassing thing is that my salad dressing is out-grossing my films. ~ Paul Newman
Paul Newman was born Paul Leonard Newman on January 26, 1925, in Shaker Heights, Ohio, the second son of Theresa Garth (née Fetzer, died 1982) and Arthur Sigmund Newman (died 1950), who ran a sporting goods store. Newman’s mother worked in his father’s store, while raising Paul and his elder brother, Arthur, who later became a producer and production manager.
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, and was a notable actor and alumnus of their Curtain Pullers children’s theatre program. Graduating from Shaker Heights High School 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.
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 in drama and economics at Kenyon College in Gambier, Ohio in 1949. Shortly after earning his degree, he 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. He 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.
Newman arrived in New York City in 1951 with his first wife, Jackie Witte, taking up residence in the St. George section of Staten Island.
He made his Broadway theatre debut in the original production of William Inge’s Picnic with Kim Stanley in 1953 and appeared in the original Broadway production of The Desperate Hours in 1955. In 1959, he was in the original Broadway production of Sweet Bird of Youth with Geraldine Page and three years later starred with Page in the film version. During this time Newman started acting in television. His first credited role was in a 1952 episode of Tales of Tomorrow entitled “Ice from Space”. In the mid-1950s, he appeared twice on CBS’s Appointment with Adventure anthology series.
In February 1954, Newman appeared in a screen test with James Dean, directed by Gjon Mili, for East of Eden (1955). Newman was tested for the role of Aron Trask, Dean for the role of Aron’s fraternal twin brother Cal. Dean won his part, but Newman lost out to Richard Davalos. That same year, he co-starred with Eva Marie Saint and Frank Sinatra in a live—and color—television broadcast of Our Town, a musical adaptation of Thornton Wilder’s stage play. Newman was a last-minute replacement for James Dean. The Dean connection had resonance two other times, as Newman was cast in two leading roles originally earmarked for Dean, as Billy the Kid in The Left Handed Gun and as Rocky Graziano in Somebody Up There Likes Me, both filmed after Dean’s death in an automobile collision.
Newman’s first film for Hollywood was The Silver Chalice (1954). The film was a box office failure and the actor would later acknowledge his disdain for it. In 1956, Newman garnered much attention and acclaim for the role of Rocky Graziano in Somebody Up There Likes Me. In 1958, he starred in Cat on a Hot Tin Roof (1958), opposite Elizabeth Taylor. The film was a box office smash and Newman garnered his first Academy Award nomination. Also in 1958, Newman starred in The Long, Hot Summer with Joanne Woodward, with whom he reconnected on the set in 1957 (they had first met in 1953). He won Best Actor at the 1958 Cannes Film Festival for this film.
Newman starred in The Young Philadelphians (1959), Exodus (1960), From the Terrace, (1960), The Hustler (1961), Hud (1963), Harper (1966), Hombre (1967), Cool Hand Luke (1967), The Towering Inferno (1974), Slap Shot (1977), Absence of Malice (1981) and The Verdict (1982). He teamed with fellow actor Robert Redford and director George Roy Hill for Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid (1969) and The Sting (1973). After his marriage to Woodward they appeared together in The Long, Hot Summer (1958), Rally ‘Round the Flag, Boys!, (1958), From the Terrace (1960), Paris Blues (1961), A New Kind of Love (1963), Winning (1969), WUSA (1970), The Drowning Pool (1975), Slap Shot (1977) Harry & Son (1984), and Mr. and Mrs. Bridge (1990). They starred in the HBO miniseries Empire Falls, but did not share any scenes.
In addition to starring in and directing Harry & Son, Newman directed four feature films starring Woodward. They were Rachel, Rachel (1968), based on Margaret Laurence’s A Jest of God, the screen version of the Pulitzer Prize–winning play The Effect of Gamma Rays on Man-in-the-Moon Marigolds (1972), the television screen version of the Pulitzer Prize–winning play The Shadow Box (1980), and a screen version of Tennessee Williams’ The Glass Menagerie (1987). 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.
In 2003, Newman appeared in a Broadway revival of Wilder’s Our Town, receiving his first Tony Award nomination for his performance. PBS and the cable network Showtime aired a taping of the production, and Newman was nominated for an Emmy Award for Outstanding Lead Actor in a Miniseries or TV Movie.
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 appearance overall, although he continued to provide voice work for films, was in 2005 in the HBO mini-series Empire Falls (based on the Pulitzer Prize-winning novel by Richard Russo) in which he played the dissolute father of the protagonist, Miles Roby, and for which he won a Golden Globe and a Primetime Emmy. In 2006, in keeping with his strong interest in car racing, he provided the voice of Doc Hudson, a retired anthropomorphic race car, in Disney/Pixar’s Cars — this was his final role for a major feature film. While not in the sequel Cars 2 (2011), his voice was later used in the third film, Cars 3 (2017), for which he received billing, almost nine years after his death.
Newman retired from acting in May 2007. He came out of retirement to record narration for the 2007 documentary Dale, about the life of NASCAR driver Dale Earnhardt, and for the 2008 documentary The Meerkats.
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.
One beneficiary of his philanthropy is the Hole in the Wall Gang Camp, a residential summer camp for seriously ill children located in Ashford, Connecticut, which Newman co-founded in 1988. It is named after the gang in his film Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid (1969), and the real-life, historic Hole-in-the-Wall outlaw hangout in the mountains of northern Wyoming. Newman’s college fraternity, Phi Kappa Tau, adopted his Connecticut Hole in the Wall camp as their “national philanthropy” in 1995. The original camp has expanded to become several Hole in the Wall Camps in the U.S., Ireland, France, and Israel. The camps serve 13,000 children every year, free of charge.
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.
Upon Newman’s death, the Italian newspaper (a “semi-official” paper of the Holy See) L’Osservatore Romano published a notice lauding Newman’s philanthropy. It also commented that “Newman was a generous heart, an actor of a dignity and style rare in Hollywood quarters.”
Newman was responsible for preserving lands around Westport, Connecticut. He lobbied the state’s governor for funds for the 2011 Aspetuck Land Trust in Easton. In 2011 Paul Newman’s estate gifted land to Westport to be managed by the Aspetuck Land Trust.
Newman was an auto racing enthusiast, despite being colorblind, and first became interested in motorsports (“the first thing that I ever found I had any grace in”) while training at the Watkins Glen Racing School for the filming of Winning, a 1969 film. Because of his love and passion for racing, Newman agreed in 1971 to star in and to host his first television special, Once Upon a Wheel, on the history of auto racing. It was produced and directed by David Winters, who co-owned a number of racing cars with Newman. Newman’s first professional event as a racer was in 1972 at Thompson International Speedway, quietly entered as “P.L. Newman”, by which he continued to be known in the racing community.
He was a frequent competitor in Sports Car Club of America (SCCA) events for the rest of the decade, eventually winning four national championships. He later drove in the 1979 24 Hours of Le Mans in Dick Barbour’s Porsche 935 and finished in second place. Newman reunited with Barbour in 2000 to compete in the Petit Le Mans.
Newman was married twice. His first marriage was to Jackie Witte from 1949 to 1958. They had a son, Scott (1950–1978), and two daughters, Stephanie Kendall (born 1951) and Susan (born 1953). Scott, who appeared in films including Breakheart Pass, The Towering Inferno, and the 1977 film Fraternity Row, died in November 1978 from a drug overdose. Newman started the Scott Newman Center for drug abuse prevention in memory of his son. Susan is a documentary filmmaker and philanthropist, and has Broadway and screen credits, including a starring role as one of four Beatles fans in I Wanna Hold Your Hand (1978), and also a small role opposite her father in Slap Shot. She also received an Emmy nomination as co-producer of his telefilm, The Shadow Box.
Newman met actress Joanne Woodward in 1953. Shortly after filming The Long, Hot Summer in 1957, he divorced Witte. He married Woodward early in 1958. The Newmans moved away from Hollywood in the early 1960s, buying a home and starting a family in Westport, Connecticut. They were one of the very first Hollywood movie star couples to choose to raise their families outside California. They remained married for 50 years, until his death in 2008. 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.
Newman was scheduled to make his professional stage directing debut with the Westport Country Playhouse’s 2008 production of John Steinbeck’s Of Mice and Men, but he stepped down on May 23, 2008, citing his health concerns.
In June 2008, it was widely reported in the press that he 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, who partnered in the 1980s with Newman to start Newman’s Own, told the Associated Press in an interview in mid-2008 that Newman had told him about being afflicted with the disease about 18 months prior. Newman’s spokesman told the press that the star was “doing nicely”, but neither confirmed nor denied that he had cancer.
Newman died on the morning of September 26, 2008, in the presence of his family. His body was cremated after a private funeral service near his home in Westport.