Paul Newman

Paul Newman Headshot

Actor • Entrepreneur

Birth Name: Paul Leonard Newman

Birth Date: January 26, 1925

Death Date: September 26, 2008

Birth Place: Shaker Heights, Ohio

Spouses: Joanne Woodward

An iconic figure in Hollywood history, Paul Newman was an Academy Award-winning actor, acclaimed director, and noted philanthropist who helped define the male lead in motion pictures from the mid-1950s through the 21st century. His charm, intelligence and strength informed a wide variety of roles, from underdog boxer Rocky Graziano in "Somebody Up There Likes Me" (1955) and the damaged Brick in "Cat on a Hot Tin Roof" (1958), to roguish antiheros like "Harper" (1966), "Cool Hand Luke" (1967) and Butch Cassidy in "Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid" (1969) - the latter of which showcased his famed partnership with Robert Redford. The two reprised their onscreen chemistry to great effect with the caper classic "The Sting" (1973). Of course, Newman was also admired for his 50-year marriage to actress Joanne Woodward, a rarity among Hollywood couples for its duration and lack of drama. He earned Oscar nominations for his roles in "Absence of Malice" (1981) and "The Verdict" (1982), finally winning for his turn as pool hall hustler Fast Eddie Felson in "The Color of Money" (1986). Newman's career slowed down following "The Hudsucker Proxy" (1994) and "Nobody's Fool" (1994) in favor of his philanthropic efforts through his Newman's Own brand of foods, which brought $300 million to educational charities. After earning praise for "Road to Perdition" (2002) and an Emmy for "Empire Falls" (HBO, 2005), Newman privately battled cancer until succumbing in 2008, leaving behind a legacy as one of the greatest screen icons of all time.

Born Paul Leonard Newman in the Shaker Heights suburb of Cleveland, OH, on Jan. 26, 1925, he was the son of an affluent Jewish family who owned a sporting goods store. His interest in acting bloomed at an early age, thanks to his mother and uncle. He made his debut in a school production of "Robin Hood" at the age of seven. He graduated from high school in 1943 and spent three years at Ohio University, but was expelled before serving in the Navy during World War II as a radio operator. He returned to civilian life and earned his degree from Kenyon College in Ohio, with his intention being to study economics, but drama exhibited a stronger pull. In 1949, he married Jackie Witte, with whom he had three children - son Scott and daughters Stephanie and Susan. A brief return to Shaker Heights to run his family's store after his father's death in 1950 lend to feelings of discontentment, so he packed up his wife and children and relocated to New Haven, CT, where he enrolled in the Yale Drama School. Agents caught wind of his talent at a production there, and invited him to join the teeming throngs of actors seeking work in New York City.

Supporting roles in live television and plays followed, which eventually led to his Broadway debut in William Inge's "Picnic" in 1953. While there, he also continued his studies at the acclaimed Actor's Studio, making the acquaintance of another up-and-coming actor, Joanne Woodward, who was serving as an understudy on "Picnic." Based on the strength of his performance in the Inge play, he was offered a contract with Warner Bros. and a starring role in a historical epic called "The Silver Chalice" (1955). The picture was critically dismissed. Newman considered it such a personal embarrassment that he later took out a full page ad in the Hollywood trades apologizing for his participation. During this period, he also auditioned opposite James Dean for the film "East of Eden" (1955), but the part went to Richard Davalos.

He returned to the stage in "The Desperate Hours," but earned a reprieve from the movies via "Somebody Up There Likes Me" (1956), an affecting biopic about fighter Rocky Graziano's tenacious life and career from director Robert Wise. The film and Newman garnered praise from the press, leading him to launch into a string of commercially and critically successful pictures that highlighted his expansive range of talent. First, in Arthur Penn's revisionist Western "The Left-Handed Gun" (1958), he was a imbecilic and murderous Billy the Kid, while he held his own as Tennessee Williams's fallen football hero Brick opposite Elizabeth Taylor and Burl Ives in a somewhat truncated version of "Cat on a Hot Tin Roof" (1958), which earned him his first Academy Award nomination and the admiration of female fans the world over.

While shooting "The Long Hot Summer" (1958) - which earned him the Best Actor award at the Cannes Film Festival - in Louisiana, he became re-acquainted with Joanne Woodward, who was the film's female lead. The two soon fell in love, and after divorcing Jackie, Newman and Woodward were married in Las Vegas in 1958. The couple appeared in numerous films together and had three daughters, which they raised far from Hollywood in the affluent neighborhood of Westport, CT. Newman's film career continued to burn white-hot throughout the early 1960s; he first landed on Quigley Publications' list of top grossing stars in 1963 and would appear there 13 more times until 1986. His cheeky charm, good looks and magnetism made him a casting agent's first choice for flawed heroes in films like "Paris Blues" (1961); "The Hustler" (1961), as pool shark Fast Eddie Felson; "Sweet Bird of Youth" (1962), after Newman had starred in the original Broadway run in 1960; and "Hud" (1963). The latter picture and "The Hustler" earned him two more Academy Award nominations and enduring status as an icon of cool among young acting aspirants and film buffs for decades to follow.

Newman's star power carried him into the mid- and late-1960s with ease. He worked with Alfred Hitchcock on the thriller "Torn Curtain" (1966) and played some of his most memorable roles, including the detective Lew Archer, who was renamed for "Harper" (1966); an unbreakable Southern convict in "Cool Hand Luke" (1967), which brought him another Oscar nomination; and a charming version of the Western outlaw Butch Cassidy in the box office blockbuster "Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid" (1969), opposite his good friend Robert Redford. Newman also made his debut as a director in 1968 with "Rachel, Rachel," starring Woodward. Both his lead and the film earned Oscar nods, but his directorial effort only yielded a Golden Globe. Newman's political activism also came to the forefront during the late sixties, through tireless campaigning for Eugene McCarthy's 1968 presidential campaign. His association with McCarthy led to his being named on future President Richard Nixon's infamous "Opponents List;" Newman, who ranked No. 19 out of 20, later commented that his inclusion was among the proudest achievements of his career.

Newman's superstar status - he was the top-ranking box office star in 1969 and 1970 - allowed him to experiment with film roles during the 1970s, which led to quirky choices like "WUSA" (1970), "Sometimes a Great Notion" (1971), "Pocket Money" (1972), and "The Life and Times of Judge Roy Bean" (1972); all of which he also produced through First Artists, a company he established with fellow stars Sidney Poitier and Barbra Streisand. Newman also served as producer on the quirky drama "They Might Be Giants" (1969) starring his wife, Woodward, and directed her and their daughter Elinor in the 1972 film version of "The Effect of Gamma Rays on Man-in-the-Moon Marigolds." He also developed a passion for auto racing after training with professionals for the 1969 drama "Winning." By 1972, he was racing professionally and completed Le Mans' 24-hour competition in 1979. The love of the racetrack would never leave him. The 1970s also yielded two of Newman's biggest hits: "The Sting" (1973), which reunited him with Redford, and "The Towering Inferno" (1974), which paired him with Steve McQueen for the first and only time. Newman also starred in the outrageous cult hit "Slap Shot" (1976) as an aging hockey star who coaches a farm team of misfits, and made two films with Robert Altman - "Buffalo Bill and the Indians" (1976) and the bizarre apocalyptic drama "Quintet" (1979) - neither of which boosted the director's fading career.

In 1978, Newman lost his son Scott to drug addiction. Due to his tragic lose, he curtailed his film career for much of the late-'70s, establishing the Scott Newman Center for Drug Abuse Prevention, while joining Woodward in passionate anti-drug campaigning. But by the early 1980s, Newman returned to filmmaking in several well-chosen projects that showcased his matured but undiminished skills. He was a beat cop caught between street violence and corrupt fellow officers in the violent "Fort Apache The Bronx" (1981); the son of a deceased crime figure who finds himself the focus of a dogged journalist's investigation in Sydney Pollack's "Absence of Malice" (1981); and a down-and-out lawyer who earns a chance at redemption in Sidney Lumet's "The Verdict," which brought another Academy Award nomination. The Cecil B. DeMille Award for Lifetime Achievement from the Hollywood Foreign Press followed in 1984.

With the help of writer A.E. Hotchner, in 1982, he launched Newman's Own, a line of food products that donated all proceeds after taxes to charity. The brand bloomed largely with its first release of salad dressing, but eventually included everything from salsa and lemonade to popcorn. Four years later, he established the Hole-in-the-Wall Gang Camp - named after Butch and Sundance's gang in "Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid" - in his home state of Connecticut. The camp, which served as a year-round retreat and center for seriously ill children, operated entirely on outsider contributions and Newman's own tireless campaigning. Less philanthropic but no less dear to the actor's heart was the Newman/Haas/Lanigan Racing auto team, which he co-founded in 1983. For his charitable efforts, Newman was awarded the Jean Hersholt Award in 1994.

In 1986, Newman won a special Oscar for his numerous "compelling screen performances." That same year, he returned to one of his most famous roles - that of Fast Eddie Felson from "The Hustler" - in a sequel by Martin Scorsese called "The Color of Money." Newman's performance all but eclipsed up-and-comer Tom Cruise, leading him to collect his second Oscar in 1987. A brief return to regular film appearances followed, including turns in the atomic war drama "Fat Man and Little Boy" (1989), as colorful Southern governor Earl Long in "Blaze" (1989), and a pairing with Woodward as the heads of a conservative family in "Mr. and Mrs. Bridge" (1990) for James Ivory and Ismail Merchant.

Newman announced that he would retire from acting in 1995, though that statement proved short-lived. His gruff humor enjoyed a fine spotlight in the Coen Brothers' quirky 1950s-era comedy "The Hudsucker Proxy" (1994), and he earned another Oscar nomination as a likable if flawed small town handyman who gets a chance to rebuild a relationship with his son in "Nobody's Fool" (1995). "Twilight" (1998) surrounded Newman with such stellar peers as Gene Hackman, Susan Sarandon, and James Garner, in a mystery-drama about infidelity and aging, while he provided much needed gravity to the frothy romance "Message in a Bottle" (1999) and showed he had lost none of his sex appeal opposite Linda Fiorentino in the quirky comedy caper, "Where the Money Is" (2000). Two years later, he earned his first Oscar nomination for Supporting Actor as an Irish crime boss in "The Road to Perdition" (2002). Newman also became the oldest driver on a winning team when he participated in the 24 Hours of Daytona endurance race in 1995.

In 2002, Newman returned to the stage after a 35-year absence to play the stage manager in a production of "Our Town" for the Westport Players (Woodward was the troupe's artistic director). The show quickly transferred to Broadway, with Newman earning a Tony for his performance, as well as an Emmy for the 2003 broadcast of the show on PBS. Two years later, he took home the trophy, as well as a Golden Globe, for his turn as the cantankerous ne'er-do-well father of Ed Harris in the acclaimed HBO miniseries "Empire Falls" (2005). And he lent his gravely tones to the Pixar-animated feature "Cars" (2006), as Doc Hudson, the former racing champ who helps train Lightning McQueen (voiced by Owen Wilson), as well as the documentary "Dale" (2007), about the late racing champion Dale Earnhardt.

In 2007, Newman announced that he was retiring in May of that year, citing that he felt he was no longer able to perform at a level that pleased him. However, his charitable work continued unabated that year, with the actor donating $10 million to his alma mater, Kenyon College. It was later revealed that throughout 2005 and 2006, Newman quietly divested himself of his entire ownership in Newman's Own, donating the money to his foundation, which totaled a whopping $120 million. Meanwhile, Newman expanded on his retirement when he stepped down as director of John Steinbeck's "Of Mice and Men" for the Westport Country Playhouse in Westport, CT, citing unspecified health issues. Although it was rumored that the legend was suffering from cancer, nothing official was stated by his camp. Sadly, the rumors turned out to be true when, on Sept. 26, 2008, Newman succumbed to the disease at age 83, surrounded by family and close friends at his home in Westport.

Credits

The Last Movie StarsStream

Self
Docuseries
2022
100%

Cars 3Stream

Voice
Doc Hudson
Movie
2017
69%

The Distant Drummer: Flowers Of Darkness

Narrator
Show
2016

Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid

Actor
Show
2014

Talking Pictures

Guest
Show
2013

Live to Be 150 ... Can You Do It?

Guest
Show
2008

The Meerkats

Voice
Teller
Movie
2008

The Price of Sugar

Narrator
Movie
2007

CarsStream

Voice
Doc Hudson
Movie
2006
75%

Roving Mars

Actor
Movie
2006

Mater and the Ghostlight

Voice
Doc Hudson
Movie
2006

Empire FallsStream

Actor
Max Roby
Miniseries
2005

Empire FallsStream

Executive Producer
Miniseries
2005

Dale

Narrator
Movie
2005

Tell Them Who You Are

Self
Movie
2004

Road to PerditionStream

Actor
John Rooney
Movie
2002
81%

Masterpiece Theatre's American Collection

Actor
Show
2000

Where the Money Is

Actor
Henry
Movie
2000

Message in a Bottle

Actor
Dodge Blake
Movie
1999

TwilightStream

Actor
Harry Ross
Movie
1998
61%

Super Speedway

Narrator
Movie
1997

Inside the Actors Studio

Guest
Talk
1994

The Hudsucker ProxyStream

Actor
Sidney J. Mussburger
Movie
1994
60%

Nobody's FoolStream

Actor
Sully
Movie
1994
91%

Mr. & Mrs. BridgeStream

Actor
Walter Bridge
Movie
1990
82%

The SimpsonsStream

Guest Voice
Himself
Series
1989
85%

Fat Man and Little Boy

Actor
Gen. Leslie R. Groves
Movie
1989

Blaze

Actor
Gov. Earl K. Long
Movie
1989

The Glass Menagerie

Director
Movie
1987

The Color of MoneyStream

Actor
Fast Eddie Felson
Movie
1986
88%

Circuit

Actor
Movie
1984

Harry and Son

Actor
Harry Keach
Movie
1984

Harry and Son

Director
Movie
1984

Harry and Son

Producer
Movie
1984

ウイニングラン

Actor
Movie
1983

The VerdictStream

Actor
Frank Galvin
Movie
1982
89%

Absence of MaliceStream

Actor
Gallagher
Movie
1981
81%

Fort Apache, The Bronx

Actor
Murphy
Movie
1981
80%

Earth's Final Fury

Actor
Hank Henderson
Movie
1980

The Shadow Box

Director
Movie
1980

Quintet

Actor
Essex
Movie
1979

Silovit Udarac

Actor
Movie
1977

Slap ShotStream

Actor
Reggie Dunlop
Movie
1977
85%

Silent Movie

Self
Movie
1976

Buffalo Bill and the Indians

Actor
William F. 'Buffalo Bill' Cody
Movie
1976

The Drowning PoolStream

Actor
Harper
Movie
1975
53%

The Towering InfernoStream

Actor
Doug Roberts
Movie
1974
68%

The Effect of Gamma Rays on Man-in-the-Moon Marigolds

Director
Movie
1973

The Effect of Gamma Rays on Man-in-the-Moon Marigolds

Producer
Movie
1973

The Mackintosh Man

Actor
Rearden
Movie
1973

The StingStream

Actor
Henry Gondorff
Movie
1973
93%

Pocket Money

Actor
Jim Kane
Movie
1972

The Life and Times of Judge Roy BeanStream

Actor
Judge Roy Bean
Movie
1972
80%

They Might Be GiantsStream

Producer
Movie
1971
61%

WUSA

Actor
Rheinhardt
Movie
1970

WUSA

Producer
Movie
1970

Sometimes a Great Notion

Actor
Hank Stamper
Movie
1970
100%

Sometimes a Great Notion

Director
Movie
1970
100%

Sometimes a Great Notion

Executive Producer
Movie
1970
100%

Winning

Actor
Frank Capua
Movie
1969

Butch Cassidy and the Sundance KidStream

Actor
Butch Cassidy (Robert Leroy Parker)
Movie
1969
90%

The Dick Cavett ShowStream

Guest
Talk
1968

Rachel, RachelStream

Director
Movie
1968
92%

Rachel, RachelStream

Producer
Movie
1968
92%

The Secret War of Harry Frigg

Actor
Pvt. Harry Frigg
Movie
1968

Cool Hand LukeStream

Actor
Luke
Movie
1967
100%

HombreStream

Actor
John Russell
Movie
1967
93%

Torn CurtainStream

Actor
Professor Michael Armstrong
Movie
1966
65%

HarperStream

Actor
Lew Harper
Movie
1966
95%

Lady L

Actor
Armand Denis
Movie
1965

What a Way to Go!Stream

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Larry Flint
Movie
1964
18%

The Outrage

Actor
Juan Carrasco
Movie
1964

HudStream

Actor
Hud Bannon
Movie
1963
85%

A New Kind of Love

Actor
Steve Sherman
Movie
1963

The PrizeStream

Actor
Andrew Craig
Movie
1963
50%

Hemingway's Adventures of a Young ManStream

Actor
The Battler
Movie
1962
0%

Sweet Bird of YouthStream

Actor
Chance Wayne
Movie
1962
74%

Paris Blues

Actor
Ram Bowen
Movie
1961

The HustlerStream

Actor
'Fast' Eddie Felson
Movie
1961
94%

From the TerraceStream

Actor
David Alfred Eaton
Movie
1960
31%

ExodusStream

Actor
Ari Ben Canaan
Movie
1960
65%

On the Harmfulness of Tobacco

Director
Movie
1959

The Young PhiladelphiansStream

Actor
Anthony Judson Lawrence/Narrator
Movie
1959
71%

Rally 'Round the Flag, Boys!

Actor
Harry Bannerman
Movie
1958

The Left Handed Gun

Actor
Billy The Kid
Movie
1958

The Long, Hot SummerStream

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Ben Quick
Movie
1958
86%

Cat on a Hot Tin RoofStream

Actor
Brick Pollitt
Movie
1958
97%

The Helen Morgan Story

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Larry Maddux
Movie
1957

Until They Sail

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Capt. Jack Harding
Movie
1957

The Kaiser Aluminum Hour

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Pvt. Danny Scott
Show
1956

The RackStream

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Capt. Edward W. Hall Jr.
Movie
1956

Somebody Up There Likes MeStream

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Rocky
Movie
1956
86%

Appointment with Adventure

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Mack
Show
1955

Producers' Showcase

Actor
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1954

The Silver ChaliceStream

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Basil
Movie
1954
13%

The United States Steel Hour

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Tom Corey
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1953

I've Got a SecretStream

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Game Show
1952

Tales of TomorrowStream

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Series
1951

What's My Line?Stream

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1950

SuspenseStream

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1949

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