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Paul Newman
Paul Newman - 1958.jpg
Newman in 1958
Paul Leonard Newman

(1925-01-26)January 26, 1925
Died September 26, 2008(2008-09-26) (aged 83)
  • Actor
  • film director
  • race car driver
  • entrepreneur
Years active 1949–2007
Organization SeriousFun Children's Network, Safe Water Network
Political party Democratic
  • Jackie Witte
    (m. 1949; div. 1958)
  • (m. 1958)
Children 6, including Scott, Nell, and Melissa
Military career
Allegiance  United States
Service/branch Flag of the United States Navy.svg United States Navy
Years of service 1943–1946
Rank PO3 collar.png Petty Officer Third Class
Awards U.S. Navy Good Conduct Medal ribbon.svg Navy Good Conduct Medal

Paul Leonard Newman (January 26, 1925 – September 26, 2008) was an American actor, film director, race car driver, philanthropist, and entrepreneur. He was the recipient of numerous awards, including an Academy Award, a BAFTA Award, three Golden Globe Awards, a Screen Actors Guild Award, a Primetime Emmy Award, a Silver Bear, a Cannes Film Festival Award, and the Jean Hersholt Humanitarian Award.

Early life

Newman was born on January 26, 1925, in Cleveland Heights, Ohio, and raised in nearby Shaker Heights. He was the second son of Theresa Garth (née Fetzer, Fetzko, or Fetsko; Slovak: Terézia Fecková; 1894–1982) and Arthur Sigmund Newman, Sr. (1893–1950), who ran a sporting goods store. Newman's mother worked in his father's store, while raising Paul and his elder brother, Arthur.

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 theater 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. After the WWII, Newman completed his Bachelor of Arts degree in drama and economics at Kenyon College in Gambier, Ohio, in 1949.

After touring with several summer stock companies including the Belfry Players, Newman attended the Yale School of Drama for a year before studying at the Actors Studio under Lee Strasberg.

Career highlights

His first starring Broadway role was in William Inge's Picnic, and he starred in smaller roles for a few more films before receiving widespread attention and acclaim for his performances in Somebody Up There Likes Me (1956) and Cat on a Hot Tin Roof (1958).

The Hustler 1961 screenshot 4
Newman in The Hustler (1961)

Newman's major film roles include:

  • Eddie Felson in The Hustler (1961),
  • Hud Bannon in Hud (1963),
  • Lew Harper in Harper (1966),
  • Luke Jackson in Cool Hand Luke (1967),
  • Butch Cassidy in Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid (1969),
  • Judge Roy Bean in The Life and Times of Judge Roy Bean (1972),
  • Henry "Shaw" Gondorff in The Sting (1973),
  • Doug Roberts in The Towering Inferno (1974),
  • Reggie Dunlop in Slap Shot (1977),
  • Murphy in Fort Apache, The Bronx (1981),
  • and as the voice of Doc Hudson in Cars (2006) as his final acting non-documentary role, with his archival voice recordings being used again in Cars 3 (2017), nine years after his death.

A ten-time Oscar nominee, Newman was awarded an Academy Award for Best Actor for The Color of Money (1986).

21st-century roles

In 2003, Newman appeared in a Broadway revival of Wilder's Our Town, receiving a 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 live action 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 live action 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.

Newman retired from acting in May 2007, saying: "You start to lose your memory, you start to lose your confidence, you start to lose your invention. So I think that's pretty much a closed book for me."

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, which is his final film role overall.

Outside cinema


He was a co-founder of Newman's Own, a food company from which he donated all post-tax profits and royalties to charity. As of May 2021, these donations have totaled over US$570 million.

In 1988, Newman founded the SeriousFun Children's Network, a global family of summer camps and programs for children with a serious illness which has served 1.3 million children and family members since its inception.

In June 1999, Newman donated $250,000 to Catholic Relief Services to aid refugees in Kosovo.

In 2006, Newman also co-founded Safe Water Network with John Whitehead, former chairman of Goldman Sachs, and Josh Weston, former chairman of ADP, to improve access to safe water to underserved communities around the world.

Auto racing

24 Hours of Le Mans career
Years 1979
Teams Dick Barbour Racing
Best finish 2nd (1979)
Class wins 1 (1979)

Newman was an auto racing enthusiast. He first became interested in motorsports 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.

Newman won several national championships as a driver in Sports Car Club of America road racing, and his race teams won several championships in open-wheel IndyCar racing. 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.

Road America Paul Newman Nissan on display
Sharp/Newman Nissan

Newman was posthumously inducted into the SCCA Hall of Fame at the national convention in Las Vegas, Nevada on February 21, 2009. Among his last major races were the Baja 1000 in 2004 and the 24 Hours of Daytona once again in 2005. Lime Rock Park's No Name Straight was renamed Paul Newman Straight in 2022.

Newman's racing life was chronicled in the documentary Winning: The Racing Life of Paul Newman (2015).

Paul Newman Racing 1979 Spyder NF-11 Chevrolet V8 - CanAm single seater racer based on Lola T333CS
A Newman Freeman Racing Spyder NF Can-Am race car from 1979)

Motorsports career results

SCCA National Championship Runoffs

Year Track Car Class Finish Start Status
1973 Road Atlanta Nissan 510 B Sedan 9 15 Running
1975 Road Atlanta Nissan 510 B Sedan 6 11 Running
1976 Road Atlanta Nissan 510 B Sedan 3 6 Running
Triumph TR6 D Production 1 1 Running
1978 Road Atlanta Nissan 280Z C Production 2 3 Running
Nissan 200SX B Sedan 3 4 Running
1979 Road Atlanta Nissan 280ZX C Production 1 2 Running
Nissan 200SX B Sedan 3 3 Running
1980 Road Atlanta Nissan 280ZX C Production 2 6 Running
1982 Road Atlanta Nissan 280ZX Turbo GT1 2 23 Running
1983 Road Atlanta Nissan 280ZX GT1 21 1 Running
1985 Road Atlanta Nissan 280ZX Turbo GT1 1 1 Running
1986 Road Atlanta Nissan 280ZX Turbo GT1 1 1 Running
2002 Mid Ohio Jaguar GT1 9 11 Running

Complete 24 Hours of Le Mans results


Year Team Co-Drivers Car Class Laps Pos. Class
1979 Germany Dick Barbour Racing Germany Rolf Stommelen
United States Dick Barbour
Porsche 935 IMSA+2.5 300 2nd 1st

Personal life

Paul Newman and Joanne Woodward 1958 - 2
Newman with second wife actress Joanne Woodward in a publicity photograph for the 1958 film The Long, Hot Summer
Paul Newman in Carnation, Washington June 2007 cropped
Newman in 2007

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, Susan (born 1953) and Stephanie Kendall (born 1954). Scott, who appeared in films including The Towering Inferno (1974), Breakheart Pass (1975), and the 1977 film Fraternity Row, died in November 1978.

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, on the production of Picnic on Broadway. It was Newman's debut; Woodward was an understudy. Shortly after filming The Long, Hot Summer in 1957, he divorced Witte to marry Woodward. The Newmans moved to East 11th Street in Manhattan, before buying a home and raising their family in Westport, Connecticut. They were one of the 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. When once asked about his reputation for fidelity, he famously quipped, "Why go out for a hamburger when you have steak at home?" He also said that he never met anyone who had as much to lose as he did. In his profile on 60 Minutes, he admitted he once left Woodward after a fight, walked around the outside of the house, knocked on the front door and explained to Joanne he had nowhere to go. Newman directed Nell alongside her mother in the films Rachel, Rachel and The Effect of Gamma Rays on Man-in-the-Moon Marigolds. Newman and Woodward also acted as mentors to Allison Janney. They met her while she was a freshman at Kenyon College during a play which Newman was directing.

Newman and Woodward were the subject of a 2022 docuseries by Ethan Hawke, The Last Movie Stars, which was broadcast on HBO Max. The docuseries was based upon tapes compiled by his friend, the Stewart Stern, for a memoir that Newman abandoned but which was published in 2022 as The Extraordinary Life of An Ordinary Man.

Illness and death

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 Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center 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 earlier. Newman's spokesman told the press that the star was "doing nicely", but neither confirmed nor denied that he had cancer. The actor was a heavy cigarette smoker until he quit in 1986.

Newman died at his home in Westport, Connecticut on the morning of September 26, 2008. He was cremated after a private funeral service.

Interesting Facts about Paul Newman

U.S. Navy portrait of Paul Newman
United States Navy photograph of Paul Newman
  • Newman's father was Jewish, and his mother was a Catholic.
  • Newman served in the United States Navy in World War II, in the Pacific theater.
  • He confessed he had problems with maths.
  • Newman was concerned about global warming and supported nuclear energy development as a solution.
  • On October 26, 2017, Paul Newman's Rolex Daytona wristwatch was auctioned in New York by Phillips Auctions for $17.5 million, making it one of the most expensive wristwatches ever sold at an auction.

Partial theater credits

  • "Harvey" playing the lead, Elwood P. Dowd – Belfry Players Theater, Williams Bay, Wisconsin. 1949
  • Phaedra by Jean Racine and Robert Collington Ackart – Yale, 1951
  • Beethoven by Dorothy B. Bland – Yale, 1952
  • Picnic by William Inge – New York, 1953–54
  • The Desperate Hours – New York, 1955
  • Sweet Bird of Youth by Tennessee Williams – New York, 1959–60
  • Baby Want a Kiss – New York, 1964
  • Love Letters – Westport, 2000
  • The Constant Wife – Westport, 2000
  • Our Town by Thornton Wilder – Westport, New York, 2002–2003
  • Trumbo – New York, 2004

Awards and nominations

Newman has been nominated for an Academy Award in five different decades. In addition to awards Newman won for specific roles, he received an honorary Academy Award in 1986 for his "many and memorable and compelling screen performances" and the Jean Hersholt Humanitarian Award for his charity work in 1994.

In 1992, Newman and his wife Joanne Woodward were recipients of Kennedy Center Honors. In 1994, the couple received the Award for Greatest Public Service Benefiting the Disadvantaged, an award given annually by Jefferson Awards.

Newman won Best Actor at the Cannes Film Festival for The Long, Hot Summer and the Silver Bear at the Berlin International Film Festival for Nobody's Fool.

In 1968, Newman was named Man of the Year by Harvard University's performance group, the Hasty Pudding Theatricals.

The 2008 edition of Sport Movies & TV – Milano International FICTS Fest was dedicated to his memory.

In 2015, the U.S. Postal Service issued a 'forever stamp' honoring Newman, which went on sale September 18, 2015. It features a 1980 photograph of Newman by photographer Steve Schapiro, accompanied by text that reads: 'Actor/Philanthropist'.

On September 3, 2022, Lime Rock Park, a road course in Lakeville, Connecticut, named the straight of the circuit past the Esses before The Uphill the Paul Newman Straight during the Historic Festival 40.

Images for kids

See also

Kids robot.svg In Spanish: Paul Newman para niños

  • List of peace activists
  • List of select Jewish racing drivers
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