Paul Newman dies at 83

Sep 27, 2008 by Ian Evans

Paul Newman — actor, philanthropist, race car driver, and the epitome of cool — has died at the age of 83. Surrounded by family and close friends, the star of such classic films as Hud, Cool Hand Luke and __Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid_ lost his battle to cancer on Friday.

Newman’s greatest achievement has to be his 50-year marriage to actress Joanne Woodward. Their union was often held up as an example that marriages could work in the crazy world of acting. Once asked by Playboy magazine if he was ever tempted to stray, Newman replied, “I have steak at home, why go out for hamburger?”

Newman, a 10-time Academy Award nominee won one Oscar and two honorary awards for a career that spanned over fifty films. One of his co-stars, Robert Redford said Saturday that, “There is a point where feelings go beyond words. I have lost a real friend. My life — and this country — is better for his being in it.”

Besides his acting, Newman was heavily involved in philanthropic work. His Newman’s Own line of salad dressings, popcorn, and other food items was founded in 1982. With all after-tax proceeds going to charity, the line has donated over $200 million. In 1988, he founded the Hole in the Wall Gang Camp, a summer camp for seriously ill children. Named after the gang in Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid, the camp has expanded to other locations in the U.S., Ireland, France and Israel. When his son from his first marriage to Jackie Witte, Scott, died of a drug overdose in 1978, Newman also set up the Scott Newman Center for drug abuse prevention.

As an actor, Newman remained in demand even in the last few years. He won an Emmy and a Golden Globe for the 2005 HBO drama Empire Falls and voiced an old car in Pixar’s Cars in 2006. He retired from acting in 2007, telling Good Morning America that, “I’m not able to work anymore as an actor at the level I would want to. You start to lose your memory, your confidence, your invention. So that’s pretty much a closed book for me.”

Newman was also fascinated by racing cars. He told People in 1979 that, “Racing is the best way I know to get away from all the rubbish of Hollywood.” Besides taking turns behind the wheel himself, he became co-owner with Carl Haas of Newman/Haas Racing. To date the organization has 107 races and eight series championships.

A class act all the way, Newman the man may be missed but his legacy in the arts and in the charity world will live on.