Sunday, September 28, 2008

Paul Newman - An All-American Hero

Thanks, Wikipedia.

This is a tribute to Paul Newman, the all-American screen hero who died after a long illness yesterday.

Paul Leonard Newman (January 26, 1925 – September 26, 2008) was an American actor, film director, entrepreneur, humanitarian and auto racing enthusiast.

He won numerous awards, including an Academy Award, two Golden Globe Awards, a Screen Actors Guild Award, a Cannes Film Festival Award and an Emmy award.

He also won several national championships as a driver in the Sports Car Club of America road racing and his race teams won several championships in open wheel IndyCar racing.

Newman was a co-founder of Newman's Own, a food company from which he donated all profits and royalties to charity.

As of May 2007, these donations had exceeded US$220 million.

Newman was born in Shaker Heights, Ohio (a suburb of Cleveland), the son of Theresa Fetsko and Arthur S. Newman, who ran a profitable sporting goods store.

His father was Russian-Jewish and his mother was born in Pticie, Slovakia.

Newman showed an early interest in theatre, which his mother encouraged. At the age of seven, he made his acting debut in a school production of Robin Hood.

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.

Newman served in the Navy in World War II.

He was sent to the Navy V-12 programme at Ohio University, with hope of being accepted for pilot training, but this plan was foiled when it was discovered he was colour blind.

He was sent instead to boot camp and then for further training as a radioman and gunner.

Qualifying as a rear-seat radioman and gunner in torpedo bombers in 1944, Aviation Radioman Third Class Newman was sent to Barber's Point, Hawaii and subsequently assigned to Pacific-based replacement torpedo squadrons.

These torpedo squadrons were responsible primarily for training replacement pilots and combat air crewmen.

He later flew from aircraft carriers as a tail gunner in the Avenger torpedo bomber.

As a radioman/gunner, he served aboard the USS Bunker Hill during the battle for Okinawa in 1945.

After the war, he completed his degree at Kenyon College, graduating in 1949.

Newman later studied acting at Yale University and under Lee Strasberg at the Actors' Studio in New York City.

Newman made his Broadway theatre debut in the original production of William Inge's Picnic, with Kim Stanley.

He later appeared in the original Broadway productions of The Desperate Hours and Sweet Bird of Youth with Geraldine Page.

He would later star in the film version of Sweet Bird of Youth, which also starred Page.

His first movie was The Silver Chalice (1954), followed by acclaimed roles in Somebody Up There Likes Me (1956), as boxer Rocky Graziano; Cat on a Hot Tin Roof (1958), opposite Elizabeth Taylor; and The Young Philadelphians (1959), with Barbara Rush and Robert Vaughn.

Newman appeared in a screen test with James Dean for East of Eden (1955).

Newman was testing for the role of Aron Trask, Dean was testing for the role of Aron's fraternal twin brother Cal Trask.

Dean won the part of Cal, while the role Newman was up for went to Richard Davalos.

The same year Newman would co-star with Eva Marie Saint and Frank Sinatra in a live and colour television broadcast of the Thornton Wilder stage play Our Town.

In 2003 Newman would act in a remake of Our Town, taking on Sinatra's role as the stage manager.

Newman was one of the few actors who successfully made the transition from 1950s cinema to that of the 1960s and 1970s.

His rebellious persona translated well to a subsequent generation.

Newman starred in Exodus (1960), The Hustler (1961), Hud (1963), Harper (1966), Hombre (1967), Cool Hand Luke (1967), The Towering Inferno (1974), Slap Shot (1977) and The Verdict (1982).

He teamed up with fellow actor Robert Redford and director George Roy Hill for Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid (1969) and The Sting (1973).

He appeared with his wife Joanne Woodward, in the feature films The Long, Hot Summer (1958), Rally 'Round the Flag, Boys!, (1958), From the Terrace (1960), Paris Blues (1961), A New Kind of Love (1963), Winning (1969), WUSA (1970), The Drowning Pool (1975), Harry & Son (1984) and Mr. and Mrs. Bridge (1990).

They also starred in the HBO miniseries Empire Falls, but did not have any scenes together.

In addition to starring in and directing Harry & Son, Newman also directed four feature films (in which he did not act) starring Woodward.

They were Rachel, Rachel (1968), based on Margaret Laurence's A Jest of God, the screen version of the Pulitzer Prize-winning play The Effect of Gamma Rays on Man-in-the-Moon Marigolds (1972), the television screen version of the Pulitzer Prize-winning play The Shadow Box (1980) and a screen version of Tennessee Williams' The Glass Menagerie (1987).

Twenty-five years after The Hustler, Newman reprised his role of "Fast" Eddie Felson in the Martin Scorsese-directed The Colour of Money (1986), for which he won the Academy Award for Best Actor.

In 2003, he appeared in a Broadway theatre revival of Thornton Wilder's Our Town, receiving his first Tony Award nomination for his performance.

Newman was nominated for an Emmy Award, for Outstanding Lead Actor in a Miniseries or TV Movie.

His last screen appearance was as a conflicted mob boss in the 2002 film Road to Perdition opposite Tom Hanks, although he continued to provide voice work for films.

In keeping with his strong interest in car racing, he provided the voice of Doc Hudson, a retired race car in Disney/Pixar's Cars.

Similarly, he served as narrator for the 2007 film Dale, about the life of the legendary NASCAR driver Dale Earnhardt, which turned out to be his final film performance.

Newman and writer A. E. Hotchner founded Newman's Own, a line of food products, in 1982.

The brand started with salad dressing and has expanded to include pasta sauce, lemonade, popcorn, salsa and wine among others.

Newman established a policy that all proceeds from the sale of Newman's Own products, after taxes, would be donated to charity.

Newman was married twice. His first marriage was to Jackie Witte and lasted from 1949 to 1958.

Together they had a son and two daughters.

Their son Scott Newman, who died in 1978 from an accidental drug overdose, appeared in the films Breakheart Pass, The Towering Inferno and the 1977 film Fraternity Row.

Newman started the Scott Newman Centre for Drug Abuse Prevention in memory of his son.

One of their daughters Susan Newman is a documentary filmmaker and philanthropist and has Broadway and screen credits, including a starring role as one of four Beatles fans in 1978's I Wanna Hold Your Hand.

She also received an Emmy nomination as co-producer of his telefilm, The Shadow Box.

Newman had eight grandchildren, all by his daughters.

Newman married actress Joanne Woodward in 1958. They have three daughters Nell, Melissa and Claire.

Newman directed Nell in the central role alongside her mother in the film The Effect of Gamma Rays on Man-in-the-Moon Marigolds.

Scottish rock band Dogs Die In Hot Cars wrote a song entitled Paul Newman's Eyes on its first album Please Describe Yourself.

The Chanukah Song of actor-comedian Adam Sandler refers to Goldie Hawn and Newman as half-Jewish and then declares, "Put them together, what a fine-lookin' Jew!"