Paul Newman Dies – 9/26/2008

US History |


On September 26th of 2008, screen legend, entrepreneur and philanthropist Paul Newman died from cancer at the age of 83, at his home in Westport, Connecticut. His wife Joanne was by his side. 

In a career that spanned more than 50 years, Newman had made more than 65 movies. Some of them were huge blockbuster hits, such as Cool Hand Luke, The Sting, Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid, The Verdict, and The Hustler, to name just a few.

Newman's acting had an effortless quality that people (especially women) found appealing. That, combined with his stunning physique, his striking good looks and his steel blue eyes, made him the perfect screen idol.

Paul Newman was born near Cleveland, Ohio on January 26th of 1925. In high school, he performed in school plays, and also played football.

In 1943 at the age of 18, Newman signed up for the United States Navy, where he served as a torpedo gunner during World War II. After the war, he enrolled at Kenyon College on a football scholarship. On graduation in 1949, Newman began performing with small theater companies. After taking classes at Yale Drama School, Newman started appearing in Broadway plays. His Broadway debut was a play called Picnic in 1953. His film debut was only a year later, when he appeared in a movie called The Silver Chalice. He later called The Silver Chalice “the worst film ever made.”

Newman's first starring film role was in Somebody Up There Likes Me, released in 1956. In that meaty role, he portrayed boxer Rocky Graziano. Since then, Newman has been nominated for many Academy Awards. His first Oscar nomination was in 1959, for Cat on a Hot Tin Roof. Of all the Oscar “nods” he received, he won just one Academy Award, as the lead actor in The Color of Money, released in 1986. Other lead actor nominations included The Hustler (1961), Cool Hand Luke (1967), Absence of Malice (1981), and Nobody's Fool (1994). Newman was also nominated for Best Supporting Actor in 2002, for Road to Perdition. 

As he demonstrated when playing high school football, Paul Newman had other interests outside of acting. He also loved auto racing, entrepreneurship, his six children, and his second wife, Joanne Woodward, who he married in 1958. When asked by a reporter why he stays home so much, his reply was “Why go out for hamburger when I have steak in the house?” Famously, instead of being flattered, Joanne Woodward was insulted at being compared to a piece of meat. Most women would swoon at being compared to a steak by Paul Newman.

The couple had many friends, who frequently visited their home. Paul cooked dinner sometimes, and his friends insisted that his cooking was better than they could get in a restaurant. This gave Newman and idea that led to his face gracing the packaging of many different food products, available on store shelves everywhere. He is most well-known for his salad dressings and his store-bought frozen pizza. The business is called Newman's Own, and all the profits go to charity. 

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Nancy Reyes

Senior Writer

One of our top senior writers, Nancy came to us wanting to break away from the politics that comes with major news corporations. She leads our team of historical writers in creating the best engaging content out there that keeps our readers coming back for more. She is an enthusiast of all things medieval and has been a member of her renaissance fair group for 15 years. She received her degree in International Relations from the University of Southern California and hopes to one day travel the world.