Paul Newman was born on Jan 26, 1925 in Cleveland, Ohio where his father owned a successful sporting goods store. He served in the Navy, and, after being discharged, enrolled at Kenyon College in 1946. In 1949 he married Jackie Witt, and the couple had a son and two daughters. He spent a year at the Yale Drama School after graduation from Kenyon, and then attended the New York Actors Studio making his Broadway debut in William Inge's Picnic in 1953.

He was quickly snapped up by Hollywood studios who were quick to see the potential in his outstanding good looks (and incredibly blue eyes). His first movie was a disastrous Biblical epic The Silver Chalice in 1954, and Newman considered his performance in it so bad that he took out a full page advertisement to apologise for it to the movie-going public. However, he scored as boxer Rocky Graziano in Somebody Up There Likes Me in 1956 and after that, he never really looked back.

In 1958, his first marriage broke up, and he married actress Joanne Woodward in the same year.

Newman has often been Oscar nominated, first for his tense and convincing performance as Brick in the 1958 adaptation of Tenessee Williams' Cat on a Hot Tin Roof.

In the 60's he was nominated for several more Academy awards: As pool shark Eddie Felson in The Hustler , callous womaniser Hud in the film of the same name, and (my personal favourite of all his roles) the defiant and unbroken chain-gang prisoner in 1967's Cool Hand Luke.

He first worked with Robert Redford in the classic Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid in 1969 and despite his chemistry with his various leading ladies, including his wife Joanne Woodward, (with whom he has worked in several films), this is the partnership that most people remember. It was repeated in the hugely successful con-artist comedy The Sting in 1973.

Through the 1970s he worked solidly, though without much critical acclaim, apart from his performances in The Sting and The Life and Times of Judge Roy Bean. In 1978, his only son, Scott, died of a drugs overdose.

During the 1980s, Newman moved on from the matinee-idol persona altogether. Although still handsome, he played parts with more bite and cynicism and received two more unsuccessful Oscar nominations for his portrayals of a businessman suffering the effects of distorted newspaper reports in Absence of Malice and the whisky-soaked lawyer Frank Galvin in The Verdict, a gripping performance. Having been passed over six times for an award, he was presented with an honorary Oscar for the body of his work in 1985, and then, ironically won a bona fide Oscar just a year later for his brilliant reprise of the role of pool hustler Eddie Felson in Martin Scorsese's The Color of Money, with Tom Cruise.

The 1980s also saw the launch of "Newman's Own" range of spaghetti sauce, salad dressing, and microwave popcorn, and the proceeds from sales of the products benefit various children's charities.

In 1994 he earned his eighth 'best actor' nomination in Nobodys Fool. Until his retirement in 2007, Newman still commanded leading roles, such as the father in Kevin Costner's Message in a Bottle.

As well as acting Newman directed 6 movies, starting with Rachel, Rachel in 1968.

Newman and Woodward were both politically conscious and involved in work for many charities, including the drug centre they endowed, named for Scott. They owned The Hole In The Wall Gang Camp, a summer camp for children with cancer and other blood-related diseases in Ashford, Connecticut, and also ran an autumn "Discovery" program for inner city children, also in Ashford.

Lest he should appear too earnest, Transitional Man reminds me that Paul was an avid road racer, former E/P champion at The Runoffs, SCCA Trans Am champion and co-owner of CART's Newman-Haas racing.

Paul Newman died on 28 September 2008.

Filmography

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