Paul Newman, Hollywood's anti-hero, dies at 83 By JOHN CHRISTOFFERSEN, Associated Press WriterWESTPORT, Conn. - Paul Newman never much cared for what he once called the "rubbish" of Hollywood, choosing to live in a quiet community on the opposite corner of the U.S. map, staying with his wife of many years and — long after he became bored with acting — pursuing his dual passions of philanthropy and race cars. And yet despite enormous success in both endeavors and a vile distaste for celebrity, the Oscar-winning actor never lost the aura of a towering Hollywood movie star, turning in roles later in life that carried all the blue-eyed, heartthrob cool of his anti-hero performances in "Hud," "Cool Hand Luke" and "Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid." The 10-time Academy Award nominee died Friday at age 83, surrounded by family and close friends at his Westport farmhouse following a long battle with cancer, publicist Jeff Sanderson said Saturday. In May, Newman dropped plans to direct a fall production of "Of Mice and Men" at Connecticut's Westport Country Playhouse, citing unspecified health issues. The following month, a friend disclosed that he was being treated for cancer and Martha Stewart, also a friend, posted photos on her Web site of Newman looking gaunt at a charity luncheon. But true to his fiercely private nature, Newman remained cagey about his condition, reacting to reports that he had lung cancer with a statement saying only that he was "doing nicely." As an actor, Newman got his start in theater and on television during the 1950s, and went on to become a legend held in awe by his peers. He won one Oscar and took home two honorary ones, and had major roles in more than 50 motion pictures, including "Exodus," "Butch Cassidy," "The Verdict," "The Sting" and "Absence of Malice." Newman worked with some of the greatest directors of the past half century, from Alfred Hitchcock and John Huston to Robert Altman, Martin Scorsese and the Coen brothers. His co-stars included Elizabeth Taylor, Lauren Bacall, Tom Cruise, Tom Hanks and, most famously, Robert Redford, his sidekick in "Butch Cassidy" and "The Sting." "There is a point where feelings go beyond words," Redford said Saturday. "I have lost a real friend. My life — and this country — is better for his being in it." Newman sometimes teamed with his wife and fellow Oscar winner, Joanne Woodward, with whom he had one of Hollywood's rare long-term marriages. "I have steak at home, why go out for hamburger?" Newman told Playboy magazine when asked if he was tempted to stray. They wed in 1958, around the same time they both appeared in "The Long Hot Summer." Newman also directed her in several films, including "Rachel, Rachel" and "The Glass Menagerie." "Our father was a rare symbol of selfless humility, the last to acknowledge what he was doing was special," his daughters said in a written statement. "Intensely private, he quietly succeeded beyond measure in impacting the lives of so many with his generosity." With his strong, classically handsome face and piercing blue eyes, Newman was just as likely to play against his looks, becoming a favorite with critics for his convincing portrayals of rebels, tough guys and losers. New York Times critic Caryn James wrote after his turn as the town curmudgeon in 1995's "Nobody's Fool" that "you never stop to wonder how a guy as good-looking as Paul Newman ended up this way." But neither his heartthrob looks nor his talent could convince Newman to embrace the Hollywood lifestyle. He was reluctant to give interviews and usually refused to sign autographs because he found the majesty of the act offensive. "Sometimes God makes perfect people," fellow "Absence of Malice" star Sally Field said, "and Paul Newman was one of them." Newman had a soft spot for underdogs in real life, giving tens of millions to charities through his food company and setting up camps for severely ill children. Passionately opposed to the Vietnam War, and in favor of civil rights, he was so famously liberal that he ended up on President Nixon's "enemies list," one of the actor's proudest achievements, he liked to say. A screen legend by his mid-40s, he waited a long time for his first competitive Oscar, winning in 1987 for "The Color of Money," a reprise of the role of pool shark "Fast Eddie" Felson, whom Newman portrayed in the 1961 film "The Hustler." In that film, Newman delivered a magnetic performance as the smooth-talking, whiskey-chugging pool shark who takes on Minnesota Fats — played by Jackie Gleason — and becomes entangled with a gambler played by George C. Scott. In the sequel — directed by Scorsese — "Fast Eddie" is no longer the high-stakes hustler he once was, but an aging liquor salesman who takes a young pool player (Cruise) under his wing before making a comeback. He won an honorary Oscar in 1986 "in recognition of his many and memorable compelling screen performances and for his personal integrity and dedication to his craft." In 1994, he won a third Oscar, the Jean Hersholt Humanitarian Award, for his charitable work. His most recent academy nod was a supporting actor nomination for the 2002 film "Road to Perdition." One of Newman's nominations was as a producer; the other nine were in acting categories. (Jack Nicholson holds the record among actors for Oscar nominations, with 12; actress Meryl Streep has had 14.) As he passed his 80th birthday, he remained in demand, winning an Emmy and a Golden Globe for the 2005 HBO drama "Empire Falls" and providing the voice of a crusty 1951 Hudson Hornet in the 2006 Disney-Pixar hit, "Cars." But in May 2007, he told ABC's "Good Morning America" he had given up acting, though he intended to remain active in charity projects. "I'm not able to work anymore as an actor at the level I would want to," he said. "You start to lose your memory, your confidence, your invention. So that's pretty much a closed book for me." Newman also turned to producing and directing. In 1968, he directed "Rachel, Rachel," a film about a lonely spinster's rebirth. The movie received four Oscar nominations, including Newman, for producer of a best motion picture, and Woodward, for best actress. The film earned Newman the best director award from the New York Film Critics Circle. In the 1970s, Newman, admittedly bored with acting, became fascinated with auto racing, a sport he studied when he starred in the 1969 film, "Winning." After turning professional in 1977, Newman and his driving team made strong showings in several major races, including fifth place in Daytona in 1977 and second place in the Le Mans in 1979. "Racing is the best way I know to get away from all the rubbish of Hollywood," he told People magazine in 1979. Newman later became a car owner and formed a partnership with Carl Haas, starting Newman/Haas Racing in 1983 and joining the CART series. Hiring Mario Andretti as its first driver, the team was an instant success, and throughout the last 26 years, the team — now known as Newman/Haas/Lanigan and part of the IndyCar Series — has won 107 races and eight series championships. "Paul and I have been partners for 26 years and I have come to know his passion, humor and, above all, his generosity," Haas said. "Not just economic generosity, but generosity of spirit. His support of the team's drivers, crew and the racing industry is legendary. His pure joy at winning a pole position or winning a race exemplified the spirit he brought to his life and to all those that knew him." Despite his love of race cars, Newman continued to make movies and continued to pile up Oscar nominations, his looks remarkably intact, his acting becoming more subtle, nothing like the mannered method performances of his early years, when he was sometimes dismissed as a Brando imitator. Off the screen, Newman was beloved in Westport, the upscale community about an hour north of New York. One of his favorite haunts was Mario's Place, an eatery that Newman frequented with pals actor James Naughton or writer A.E. Hotchner. He preferred medium-rare hamburgers, with an occasional Heineken. "He's such a great human being," owner Frank DeMace said. "I can't say enough about him." Former patrolman John Anastasia says Newman regularly played the annual softball game between local celebrities and the town police department. Newman played on the police department's team. "He was very much into it, very athletic," Anastasia said. "He didn't play the part of a celebrity, he played the part of a ballplayer. He was not just there for his good looks." In 1982, Newman and Hotchner started a company to market Newman's original oil-and-vinegar dressing. Newman's Own, which began as a joke, grew into a multimillion-dollar business selling popcorn, salad dressing, spaghetti sauce and other foods. All of the company's profits are donated to charities. The company had donated more than $250 million, according to its Web site. "We will miss our friend Paul Newman, but are lucky ourselves to have known such a remarkable person," Robert Forrester, vice chairman of Newman's Own Foundation, said in a statement. Hotchner said Newman should have "everybody's admiration." "For me it's the loss of an adventurous friendship over the past 50 years and it's the loss of a great American citizen," Hotchner said. In 1988, Newman founded a camp in northeastern Connecticut for children with cancer and other life-threatening diseases. He went on to establish similar camps in several other states and in Europe. He and Woodward bought an 18th century farmhouse in Westport, where they raised their three daughters, Elinor "Nell," Melissa and Clea. Newman had two daughters, Susan and Stephanie, and a son, Scott, from a previous marriage to Jacqueline Witte. Scott died in 1978 of an accidental overdose of alcohol and Valium. After his only son's death, Newman established the Scott Newman Foundation to finance the production of anti-drug films for children. Newman was born in Cleveland, the second of two boys of Arthur S. Newman, a partner in a sporting goods store, and Theresa Fetzer Newman. Following World War II service in the Navy, he enrolled at Kenyon College in Gambier, Ohio, where he got a degree in English and was active in student productions. He later studied at Yale University's School of Drama, then headed to work in theater and television in New York, where his classmates at the famed Actor's Studio included Brando, James Dean and Karl Malden. Newman's breakthrough was enabled by tragedy: Dean, scheduled to star as the disfigured boxer in a television adaptation of Ernest Hemingway's "The Battler," died in a car crash in 1955. His role was taken by Newman, then a little-known performer. Newman started in movies the year before, in "The Silver Chalice," a costume film he so despised that he took out an ad in Variety to apologize. By 1958, he had won the best actor award at the Cannes Film Festival for the shiftless Ben Quick in "The Long Hot Summer." In December 1994, about a month before his 70th birthday, he told Newsweek magazine he had changed little with age. "I'm not mellower, I'm not less angry, I'm not less self-critical, I'm not less tenacious," he said. "Maybe the best part is that your liver can't handle those beers at noon anymore," he said. Newman is survived by his wife, five children, two grandsons and his older brother Arthur. Paul On Paul: The light that you think you emanate is not necessarily the light that other people see. You think of yourself as a shy, retiring whatever it is, and some other people will see you in an entirely different way. ... You have to constantly learn. Obviously, you have to start with some kind of gift, but people don't understand that. ... I don't have a gift for anything. I've only had a gift of pursuit." — 1990. ___ "I remember a speech I did at a graduation. I was saying how you spend your whole life trying to get 'it' and you never know what the 'it' is. You want to connect somehow, to be in touch, and this business is terrible because it encourages you to create that protective wall. Otherwise, you get eaten alive." — 1994. ___ "There aren't many jobs you do where you do your work and people criticize you in print and on television about it. 'He's really off. He shouldn't do that.' ... They praise me, too, but that can be just as bad." — 1994. ___ "I didn't seek out those (anti-hero) roles. They're probably written better. ... Maybe it's because the writers, good writers try to choose people who are loners or are anti-heroes for characters. You can probably find some good connection between that and their own writing talent." — 1994. ___ "I've been trying to quit almost everything I do for the last 10 years, and I've managed to quit absolutely nothing. ... I was going to give up my race team, I was going to quit racing. I was going to quit films. I was going to turn the salad-dressing business over to somebody else. And get out of politics. And unfortunately, I'm busier now than before." 2002. ___ "I used to make three pictures a year, and now I make a picture every three years. Things change. There have been a lot of good things out there, but they weren't the kind of pictures that I wanted to make. I didn't want to do pictures about explosions. I don't want to do pictures about shattered glass and broken bodies and blood. That just doesn't interest me." 2002. ___ On his longevity: "Luck. ... Genetics is luck. Appearance is luck ... being born in the United States." — 1999. ___ On working with Robert Redford on "Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid" and "The Sting": "We were lucky. We did two almost perfect films together. And to try to maintain that special quality is pretty tough." — 1999. ___ On continuing acting or not: "There's a lot of stuff floating around, but I don't like to talk about it until it's in cement. I think I'd like to make one more film and then take a powder. It's time Joanne and I spent quality time together." — 2005. ___ On his Newman's Own food business: "I got into the theater because I was running away from the sporting goods business. I could never understand the romance of it — I mean, of any (retail) business. ... Now that I'm in this business, I understand the allure of market share, and killing the opposition. ... Yes, I'm very competitive." — 1999. ___ On auto racing: "Young (drivers) think about winning. I think about whether I'm going to have a pulse. ... When you get older and older, you start slowing down. Everything is off one-50th of 1 percent. Your eyes are a little off, your reflexes, touch — everything. You multiply that by just a factor of 1 percent, that's two or three seconds a lap." — 1990. ___ "I don't regret anything. It came at the right time. I was getting bored acting. ...You become passionate about one thing, it leads back into something else. If you can gain a sense of passion and commitment in your life in one arena, it's bound to bleed back into other arenas. ... In all the things I started to attack — football, tennis — I had no gift for it at all. I had no gift for racing, either. It's just something that I really wanted to do." — 1990. ___ "I'm thrilled. I'm on a roll now, and maybe now I can get a job." — Joking after winning his first best-actor Oscar in 1997.
How the Newmans made Westport their own BY GREGORY KATZ, Associated Press Writer Sat Sep 27, 2:26 PM ET WESTPORT, Conn. - When I was a kid, I never understood why my older sister got so giddy whenever we saw this middle-aged guy in tight jeans and a white T-shirt zipping around town on a bright blue motorcycle. It was only Paul Newman. So what? Only later did I realize that not every small town has a bona fide movie star so tightly woven into the fabric of daily life. It's almost impossible to imagine this small Connecticut town on the Long Island Sound now that he is gone. "He was always at ease in the town, not pretentious," said Westport News columnist and high school soccer coach Dan Woog. "He stayed in the town for 50 years and became part of the community without imposing himself or being overwhelming. When he'd speak to school classes, it was as a father, not as Butch Cassidy." Newman died at his home Friday surrounded by his family and close friends, his publicist said. We used to see the actor buying apple cider at the farm stands in the fall. He came to our high school, at the height of the psychedelic era, to lecture us on the dangers of drug and alcohol abuse, a cause he embraced even before the traumatic loss of his only son to an accidental overdose. As he aged and stepped back from the demands of making film after film, he and his wife, the actress Joanne Woodward, helped revitalize the endangered Westport Country Playhouse and also aided with the construction of a new library, a treasured town resource. They loaned their star power to local causes large and small, with Newman often vending popcorn at charity events. In exchange, they received something quite precious — near total privacy, far from the glaring lights of Hollywood and New York. "People were very proud that he was here, but they really respected his personal life," said Mollie Donovan, a Westport Historical Society leader who worked with Newman and Woodward on a variety of projects. "We never got in his face. Even if they hadn't been stars, you would have been happy to have them as friends — such warm people." She said Newman and Woodward showed their affection for Westport in a variety of ways, from helping establish a permanent art collection for the town schools to donating land to preserve open spaces here. Newman also acted in and directed local dramas and sometimes read stories to children at the library. "That tells you how he felt about Westport," she said. Donovan remembers an occasion several years back when Newman and Woodward opened the renovated barn where they lived to the public for a charity fundraiser. The house was just like any other in town — except for the Emmys and Oscars on discreet display on a little shelf with other family knick-knacks. "I'll never forget that," Donovan said. Rumors about Newman's fading health swirled throughout Westport this summer, but Donovan and others said they shied away from asking Woodward about her husband's fight against cancer because she didn't want to violate their privacy. Those who had seen Newman said he appeared painfully thin and frail. Everyone in town knew where Newman and Woodward lived in the woods near Coleytown school, but no security perimeter was established because none was needed. No one ventured in without an invitation. The only exception, Woodward told me when we had a working lunch two years ago to discuss her work at the Playhouse, came during what she jokingly referred to as her husband's "international sex symbol phase." Those were the high-profile days when Newman was central to several smash hits, including his partnerships with pal Robert Redford for "The Sting" and "Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid." Back then, Woodward said, curious female fans would sometimes cruise up to the house hoping to catch a glimpse of the star, only to be chased away by the couple's children and their false-fierce Irish wolfhound. I only interviewed Newman once. He was distant until I asked about the way the town had changed, how the precious old orchards had been bulldozed to make way for condos and car dealerships. Then the famous blue eyes flashed with anger. Woodward told me they moved to Westport — spending $96,000 in 1960 for a house and two barns that are worth millions today — for the same reason that drew so many to the suburbs during the Eisenhower and Kennedy eras: they were looking for a quiet place to raise their kids. They avoided the flashy and the opulent, settling in a peaceful, bucolic part of town deep in the forest rather than buying one of the Gold Coast estates favored by corporate chieftains and entertainment moguls. When Newman and Woodward moved in, Westport was still known as something of a writers and artists retreat. During his lifetime it would become a wealthy town popular with investment bankers and financiers — a transformation symbolized by the changing face of Main Street, where Bill's Smoke Shop shut down and Tiffany & Co. opened up. Newman and Woodward chose to live far from Hollywood, where their scintillating romance had generated far more coverage than they wanted, especially since Newman was married to another woman when they met. Since then, the gossip ceased because there was nothing to gossip about — no boozy confrontations, no reports of secret lovers, no financial scandals. Just a conventional, rock-solid marriage. Woodward even supported, a bit reluctantly, Newman's late-in-life embrace of auto racing, though she did suggest he slow down, literally, when he passed 80. In a town that is now marked by conspicuous consumption — matching his-and-her Mercedes are common — Newman and Woodward chose to downplay their financial success, although he did sometimes fly home by helicopter, landing in the open school grounds near his house before flight regulations made that more difficult. Woodward told me she was appalled by the huge houses sprouting throughout the town as cookie-cutter "McMansions" replaced the aging, colonial-style homes she treasured. She said she wanted to buy up a nearby house several years ago to prevent it from being demolished, but was overruled by her husband, who felt it was too pricey. "I think like everybody else they remembered the town as it was, the mom-and-pop stores that are gone now, and they recognized it wasn't the same," said Woog. "But even as it changed something kept them here, they still thought it was a special place."
Some critics' and fellow filmmakers' comments about Paul Newman: ___ "Newman is an actor-star in the way that Bogart was. His range isn't enormous; he can't do classics, any more than Bogart could. But when a role is right for him, he's peerless." — Pauline Kael, review of "Slap Shot," 1977. ___ "Newman you know all about. At his age he has such sex appeal that when the husband gets jealous, we believe it. He has that shucks, ma'am grin, and then you see in his eyes the look of a man who is still driving race cars, and can find an opening at 160 mph." — Roger Ebert, review of "Where the Money Is," 2000. ___ "Mr. Newman is perhaps the most resourceful and dramatically restrained of the lot. He give an ingratiating picture of a tortured and tested young man." — Bosley Crowther, New York Times review of "Cat on a Hot Tin Roof," 1958. ___ "`Hud' is a provocative picture with a shock for audiences who have been conditioned like laboratory mice to expect the customary bad-guy-is-really-good-guy reward in the last reel of a western. Paul Newman, the title-role bad guy, is a cad to the end. But if Hud Bannon is a bounder, he is never a bore. With his good looks, appetite for hell-raising and rootless amorality, he follows his code of don't-give-a-damn with snakelike charm." — Time magazine, review of "Hud," 1963. ___ "Where are the romantic idols who made their reputations on their appeal to women, the John Barrymores and Leslie Howards to whom women offered themselves in marriage? ... (L)ike most of their colleagues, (Robert) Redford and (Paul) Newman would rather be `real people' than actors, and would rather be `real actors' than romantic leads. ... Women respond to them perhaps because they represent the wine of the old romance in a new bottle." — Molly Haskell in "From Reverence to Rape: The Treatment of Women in the Movies," 1974. ___ "Could it be that Newman was always uncomfortable with his natural assets — such handsomeness — and never convinced by them? That would account for the uneasy mixture of porous cockiness and mumbling naturalism, just as it fits with his urge to prove himself as a serious citizen." — David Thomson, "A Biographical Dictionary of Film," 1994. ___ "The iconic teaming of Paul Newman and Robert Redford was so magical — and so profitable, scoring the year's biggest hit — that this offbeat character study/action comedy in Western trappings ... has been a touchstone for bickering buddy pictures ever since." — On "Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid" in "1001 Movies You Must See Before You Die," edited by Steven Jay Schneider. ___ "Pulling lover Paul Newman into the bedroom adjacent to his office, she pants, `It's my lunch hour,' and he quips, 'I'm not a cheeseburger, you know.' ... Newman's wrong, of course, he is too a cheeseburger, and so is everyone else in this all-star BBQ." — Review of "The Towering Inferno," 1974, from the book "Bad Movies We Love," by Edward Margulies and Stephen Rebello. ___ "Paul Newman, just by being the fair-haired, blue-eyed boy in such a nasty context, cannot help scoring." — John Simon, review of Robert Altman's "Buffalo Bill and the Indians, or Sitting Bull's History Lesson," 1976. ___ "But what really made everyone out there like him was that he became the rebel with a cause. As Cool Hand Luke or Butch Cassidy, Newman gave his audiences a vicarious thrill by thumbing his nose at an unjust society. ... It wasn't the blue eyes. It was the red blood and the gray matter." — "The 100 Greatest Stars of All Time," Entertainment Weekly. (Newman is No. 13.) ___ "He'd slug me if I was to call him an icon that I was intimidated by. He wouldn't want to hear anything about it. But the fact is, come on, he's Paul Newman. But he's much more than anything you'd expect. He's much more relaxed, unassuming. He gets it. He understands that the biggest job of being an actor, the hardest thing to do is to really capture 45 seconds of truth on film in the course of a long day." — actor Tom Hanks, 2002. ___ "Paul is a character actor. Leading men's parts, those bore him, as his beauty bores him. I don't think he has any vanity whatsoever. Playing the sort of ne'er-do-wells and losers and bums, I think it's a way of saying 'There's more to me than what I look like.'" — director Sidney Lumet, 1994. ___ "He decided at a relatively late age (26) he was going to be an actor, and that he was going to drama school. ... Everything he did, he was always a little bit older than the others." — author Gore Vidal, a longtime friend, 1994. ___ "There is a kind of empathy he has shown throughout his career for this kind of underdog. ... Go back and look at 'Hud.' Look at 'Cool Hand Luke.' He just feels what they're going through from the inside, just feels them. He loves the way people just barely get by. He loves that kind of margin. Those people interest him the most." — director Robert Benton, 1994.
Reaction to the death of actor Paul Newman: ___ "There is a point where feelings go beyond words. I have lost a real friend. My life — and this country — is better for his being in it." — Robert Redford. ___ "I was blessed to have know him. The world is better because of him. Sometimes God makes perfect people and Paul Newman was one of them." — Sally Field. ___ "Paul Newman's craft was acting. His passion was racing. His love was his family and friends. And his heart and soul were dedicated to helping make the world a better place for all. — Robert Forrester, vice chairman of Newman's Own Foundation. ___ "Paul was a very fine actor and a really good race driver. But mostly, he personified humanity — always taking care of those who were less fortunate. For me, this will be his legacy." — David Letterman. ___ "Paul and I have been partners for 26 years and I have come to know his passion, humor and, above all, his generosity. Not just economic generosity, but generosity of spirit. His support of the team's drivers, crew and the racing industry is legendary. His pure joy at winning a pole position or winning a race exemplified the spirit he brought to his life and to all those that knew him." — Carl Haas, Newman's racing-team partner. ___ "Yes, his eyes were that blue and beautiful. ... His legacy as a humanitarian for children around the world is unmatchable. My heartfelt sympathy goes out to Joanne and the family." — Eva Marie Saint. ___ "Our father was a rare symbol of selfless humility, the last to acknowledge what he was doing was special. Intensely private, he quietly succeeded beyond measure in impacting the lives of so many with his generosity." — Newman's five daughters. ___ "Paul Newman was the ultimate cool guy who men wanted to be like and women adored. He was an American icon, a brilliant actor, a Renaissance man and a generous but modest philanthropist. He entertained millions in some of Hollywood's most memorable roles ever, and he brightened the lives of many more, especially seriously ill children, through his charitable works. — California Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger. ___ "We mourn not only the passing of a screen legend, an actor of great depth and charisma who touched generations of fans, but we have lost a true Connecticut treasure in Paul Newman. We were blessed to have him as a friend and neighbor in Connecticut for nearly a half-century." — Connecticut Gov. M. Jodi Rell. ___ "Paul was an American icon, philanthropist and champion for children. We will miss our dear friend, whose continued support always meant the world to us. Our prayers and thoughts are with Joanne and the Newman family and the many people who Paul impacted through his endless kindness and generosity." — U.S. Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton and former President Bill Clinton.