Legendary screen legend Paul Newman died Friday night at the age of 83 from lung cancer.
Paul Newman, the legendary screen actor, entrepreneur, philanthropist, heartthrob, and liberal political activist; died today at the age of 83 at his Westminster, Connecticut home following a lengthy battle with Cancer.
Newman was an Academy Award-winning actor and acclaimed director, and he used his fame to propel his political activism, race car driving and philanthropy. He donated all the profits from his Newman’s Own food company — more than $150 million — to charities and social welfare organizations.
Brooding and sinewy, with luminous blue eyes and a husky voice, Newman resembled a preppy Greek God in his earliest screen roles. He quickly rebelled against conventional casting that tried to turn him into a pretty-boy alternative to Marlon Brando and James Dean. He became known as an introspective and nonconformist performer — a perfect anti-hero idol for the socially rebellious 1960s and 1970s.
In many of Newman’s best films — “The Hustler,” “Hud,” “Harper,” “Cool Hand Luke,” “Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid,” “The Sting,” “Slap Shot,” “The Verdict,” “Nobody’s Fool” and “The Color of Money” (for which he won the Oscar) — he played amoral rats, genial louts, self-destructive idealists, drunkards and has-beens. Some of his characters redeem themselves by being defeated or killed, and others just continue bumming along.
Newman hated to see his characters triumph on charm alone. No one, he said, would pay money to see such a beautiful man win the woman and save the day. Off-screen, he mocked his sex-symbol status and said that his personality was closest to the vulgar, second-rate hockey coach he played in “Slap Shot” (1977). His approach likely saved his career as he matured into a disciplined performer, one of the most enduring and polished of screen stars.
Newman also became known for his philanthropic work. His famous Newman’s Own Food Products, which included home made salad dressing, salsa, popcorn, lemonade, and more raised large amounts for charity and he established “The Hole in the Wall Camps” for terminally ill children.
No stranger to politics, Newman was known for his liberal Democratic views. He became a vocal advocate for the Civil Rights movement, spoke against the Vietnam War, and even appeared on President Nixon’s infamous enemies list.
He was married twice, the second to Actress Joanne Woodward lasted fifty years, imagine seeing that in Hollywood today. Newman was no doubt one of the last of a dying breed. One of those personalities who didn’t need to shock us and make the front page of tabloids, nor marinade himself in the trends and public relations stunts of modern Hollywood stars to get our attention. His half century’s worth of work in motion pictures, business, charity, and political activism; as well as his affable personality was enough.
Newman is survived by his wife Joanne Woodward as well as four of his five children. May he rest in peace. Hollywood stars of today could sure learn a few good lessons from Paul Newman.