Happy Birthday Paul Newman
Actor, director, race car driver, and philanthropist Paul Leonard Newman was born on January 26, 1925, in Shaker Heights, Ohio.
Newman enjoyed acting as a child, first appearing on stage at age seven as a court jester in Robin Hood. He also did a play when he was 10 with the Cleveland Play House.
Newman went on briefly attend Ohio University before joining the Navy in World War II. He served as a radioman-gunner aboard the aircraft carrier USS Bunker Hill. After the war, Newman earned his bachelors in drama and economics from Kenyon College. He went on to attend Yale Drama School for a year before going to New York to study under Lee Strasberg.
Newman made his Broadway debut in 1953 in Picnic. He appeared in a number of other plays and had small parts on television shows. Newman’s well-received 1956 portrayal of Rocky Graziano in Somebody Up There Likes Me launched what would turn out to be a 50-year film career. Newman earned his first Academy Award nomination in 1958 for Cat on a Hot Tin Roof. That same year he earned the Best Actor award at the Cannes Film Festival for his role in The Long, Hot Summer.
Over his long career, Newman starred in and directed a number of notable films. These included Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid (1969), The Sting (1973), and The Color of Money (1986). He also provided the voice of Doc Hudson in Disney/Pixar’s Cars (2006). Newman was one of just four actors to have been nominated for an Academy Award in five different decades. In all, he won one Academy Award, three Golden Globes, and one Emmy.
Aside from acting, Newman’s other passion was auto racing. He first became interested while training for the film Winning in 1969. Newman completed his first professional race in 1972 and went by “P.L. Newman” so as not to draw attention. He competed in the Sports Car Club of America (SCCA) National Championship Runoffs 11 times, winning four of those races. He continued to race into his 80s and was posthumously inducted into the SCCA Hall of Fame.
While acting was his craft, philanthropy was Newman’s calling. He donated his personal resources wherever there was a need. A man of many talents, Newman used to make salad dressings to give to friends and family. He decided he could turn it into a charitable business – and he did. In 1982, he started his own company, aptly named “Newman’s Own.” Today, his legacy lives on through his namesake foundation. In its 30-plus years, the company has donated over $550 million to charity – all from the profits and royalties of Newman’s Own products, just as Paul intended. Newman also co-founded the Safe Water Network, which provides sustainable drinking water to those in need.
Newman reportedly had been diagnosed with lung cancer and died on September 26, 2008.