Obituaries

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AP/Lois Bernstein
Paul Newman in 1995 at the 67th annual
Academy Awards ceremony.

Actor, Philanthropist Paul Newman Dies at 83

September 27, 2008 02:43 PM
by Rachel Balik
After a long battle with cancer, Paul Newman died on September 26 in his home in Connecticut.

Paul Newman Succumbs to Cancer at 83

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Known for being remarkably handsome and deliberately quirky, Newman often chose to play unconventional roles, his Los Angeles Times obituary reports. “Acting,” Newman once said, “is really nothing but exploring certain facets of your own personality trying to become someone else.” In his career, he freely drew from different parts of himself, while always bringing charisma and a singular energy to his performances.

Newman distinguished himself from other male stars of the time, such as Marlon Brando and James Dean, by being enthusiastic and “likeable” rather than brooding, The New York Times says. Despite his great personal appeal, he was not afraid to portray uncouth, dishonest characters. His last film role was opposite Tom Hanks in "Road to Perdition."

Despite moral ambiguity on screen, he is famous for telling Playboy magazine, when asked about his inclinations toward infidelity, “I have steak at home; why go out for hamburger?” He also distinguished himself as a philanthropist when he founded what began as a salad dressing company, Newman’s Own, and donated all its profits to charity.

Newman, who died at his home in Connecticut, is survived by his wife, the actress Joanne Woodward; five daughters; two grandchildren; and his brother.

Background: Newman’s Eclectic Career

Although Newman had a college degree in economics, his passion was theater, and he began studying it after college. His first film, “The Silver Chalice,” was so bad that, according to the BBC, Newman called it “the worst motion picture of the 1950s". But by 1961, the year he appeared in the film “The Hustler,” Newman had become well known for his performance opposite Elizabeth Taylor in 1958’s film version of  “Cat On A Hot Tin Roof,” and he was ready for stardom. “The Hustler” turned out to be the film that truly established Newman as an actor with staying power.

Newman’s career flourished from that point on. He claimed over 80 credits as an actor, director and producer. He captured only one Academy Award, although he was nominated nine other times. IMBD lists 36 other awards won by the actor.
Not only did he establish himself as an actor, but in the early 1980s, he started Newman’s Own, the food company whose motto is “Shameless Exploitation in Pursuit of the Common Good.” Newman’s Own began with bottled salad dressing and expanded to market a wide range of products, donating all of its profits—more than $200 million to date—to numerous worldwide charities.

Newman was proud of the Newman’s Own Foundation and devoted to its activities, which included the Hole in the Wall Gang Camp for seriously ill children. AskMen.com reports that he once said, “The embarrassing thing is that the salad dressing is outgrossing my films.” The editors at the men’s magazine still gave Newman a rating of 93 out of 100, citing his sexual magnetism as well as his acting career and a side gig as an auto racer. Newman/Haas/Lanigan Racing presents a tribute to Newman’s racing career, along with photos.
A recent article covering Newman's life, published in Vanity Fair, called him a "remarkably private, deeply honorable man," explaining that he "saw his movie-stardom as a trap and worked to find his way around it—to keep fame from corroding his life."  By way of example: when Newman was recently confronted by a tabloid reporter asking for what he was recently treated at a renowned New York City cancer center, Newman responded "Athlete’s foot and hair loss."
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