Paul Newman was born on January 26, 1925. This actor set precedents in all the fields in which he worked. He was an actor, a director, a philanthropist, a cook, and a race car driver. He was an active serviceman in World War II. This legendary actor is not only an international icon because of his beautiful face but also because of his talent. He has been recognized by critics, prestigious organizations, and anyone who has had the privilege of seeing him in action. This month, we celebrate his birth and legacy.
Paul Newman was born on January 26, 1925. He was the son of Artur Newman and Theresa Fetzer. He was born in Shaker Heights, Ohio. He is of Slovak ancestry on his mother’s side and Polish on his father’s side, who was a Jewish American. He attended Malvern School, Woodbury Junior High School, and Shaker Heights High School. After graduating, he joined the V-12 Navy program to become a pilot but was disqualified for being colorblind. He was then sent off to basic training, after which he served for two years, even avoiding an attack on his unit in Okinawa by sheer coincidence. He entered Kenyon College after the war. He was then able to join the football team and graduate with a degree in drama and economics. He entered Yale and studied Performing Arts, too. He was a listener at the Actor’s Studio for a decade, learning the Stanislavski method.
Although his first years as a professional actor were not easy, Newman managed to get a role in 1954 in “The Silver Chalice” by Victor Saville. However, he made his breakthrough two years later in “Somebody Up There Likes Me” (1956). That same year he starred with Billy Wilder in “Stalag 17.” After that, he began to work with actresses Ann Blyth, Joan Fontaine, Walter Pidgeon, and Sal Mineo. In 1958, he made it big when he made “Cat on a Hot Tin Roof” with the majestic Elizabeth Taylor, adapting a play by Tennessee Williams. Later, he played Billy the Kid in “The Left Handed Gun” and was the main character in the Southern drama “The Long, Hot Summer” based on the work of William Faulkner. He also worked with Orson Welles, Angela Lansbury, Leo McCarey, Joanne Woodward, and Lee Remick in this decade.
In the 1960s, Newman starred in “Exodus” by Otto Preminger. In 1962, he returned to adapt a play by Tennessee Williams: “Sweet Bird of Youth.” In 1966, he made one of the most influential films of his career: “Harper,” reinventing a genre and becoming one of the highest-grossing films of that year. Newman also made his only collaboration with director Alfred Hitchcock: “Torn Curtain.” He also participated in one of the best Westerns in film history: “Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid,” directed by George Roy Hill. This was his first time working with Robert Redford.
In the ’70s and ’80s, Newman ventured into directing films. He also worked with Steve McQueen, Robert Altman, and Sidney Lumet. Finally, in 1986, he appeared in one of the most influential movies of his career: “The Color of Money,” directed by Martin Scorsese. Newman’s career continued into the 2000s until his death at his home in 2008. By then, he was suffering from lung cancer due to long-term cigarette smoking. Until now, his name remains one of the most revered in acting, and his legacy will live on forever.
Newman appears in "The Silver Chalice," but does not make a good impact with critics despite having a significant budget.
His first big-screen success is marked by his portrayal of Rocky Graziano, the memorable boxer in "Somebody Up There Likes Me."
He gets put in the spotlight when he has unforgettable moments with the incredible Elizabeth Taylor in "Cat on a Hot Tin Roof.”
He plays the main character in "Hud," which wows critics enough to be nominated for seven Academy Awards, subsequently winning three.
His role in the film-noir drama “Harper” is widely lauded, sharing credits with Lauren Bacall and Shelley Winters.
Newman's first film as a director is "Rachel, Rachel."
The film “Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid,” in which Newman plays the titular character, wins four Oscars, nine BAFTA awards, a Grammy, a Golden Globe, five Golden Laurels, a Writers Guild of America award, and an A.S.C.A.P. award.
Newman participates in Scorsese’s “The Color of Money,” acting as a mentor to the next generation’s leading romantic actor and action star, Tom Cruise.
Why We Love Paul Newman
He was tireless
Newman truly loved his profession, never taking breaks for any time, only becoming more committed to learning his craft until he became a renowned director. As a result, his filmography is one of the longest in the industry.
He was charitable
He established a line of food products called “Newman’s Own,” which donates all its profits to charity. He was also the founder of the Serious Fun Children’s Network, a foundation of summer camps for children with illnesses. Lastly, he also built the Scott Newman Centre, which was named after his son who passed due to substance abuse.
He was the best in his endeavors
Motor racing, his other great love, was not only a hobby for him. Apart from collecting cars and attending races, Newman also competed in Le Mans and Daytona 500. In 1995, he set the record of being the oldest driver to win a 24-hour Daytona race.
5 Surprising Facts
He loved cars
Aside from his love of actual cars and his racing experience, one of his last jobs was voicing Doc Hudson in the charming Disney animated film, “Cars.”
He made an enemy of a president
Former president Richard Nixon liked to keep tabs on people who opposed his kind of politics, and Newman was on his list because of the actor’s stance against the Vietnam War.
He pulled big pranks
He was a very mischievous person, and he once faked his death as a prank.
He was critical of his first film
Newman himself has commented that “The Silver Chalice” may be the worst film of the '50s, even though it received very high ratings and got him nominated for a Golden Globe.
He wanted to be a football player
He played football in high school and college before he joined the Navy, and after the war, he continued to play football for Kenyon College under an athletic scholarship.
Paul Newman FAQs
What did Paul Newman die of?
Newman died at home because of lung cancer.
How old was Paul Newman when he passed away?
Newman was 83 years old, and we can say he lived a long and fulfilling life!
Who was Paul Newman's wife?
Jaqueline Witte was his first wife. They divorced in 1958, the same year Newman fell in love with his co-star Joanne Woodward, with whom he would spend the rest of his days.
Paul Newman’s birthday dates