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Sunday, 28 September 2008

R.I.P. Paul Newman

Source: Free Press
Paul Newman, 83, the Hollywood icon with the famous blue eyes and killer grin who seduced audiences with six decades worth of rebels, rascals and moody romancers, died Friday after a battle with lung cancer.

The Oscar-winning superstar died in the farmhouse in Westport, Conn., where he lived with his wife, Joanne Woodward -- his costar in life and in 10 of his movies -- at his side, along with other family members.

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.
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, a native of Cleveland, got his start in theater and on television during the 1950s, and went on to become one of the world's most enduring and popular film stars, a legend held in awe by his peers. He was nominated for 10 Academy Awards, winning one Oscar and two honorary ones, and had major roles in more than 50 motion pictures, including "Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid," "The Sting" and "Absence of Malice."

Newman worked with some of the greatest directors of the past half century, from Alfred Hitchcock to Martin Scorsese. His costars included Elizabeth Taylor, Tom Cruise and Robert Redford, his sidekick in "Butch Cassidy" and "The Sting."

"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," Redford said.

Newman sometimes teamed with his wife and fellow Oscar winner, Woodward. They wed in 1958, around the time they both appeared in "The Long, Hot Summer." Newman also directed her in several films, including "Rachel, Rachel" and "The Glass Menagerie."

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."

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.

"Sometimes God makes perfect people, and Paul Newman was one of them," said actress Sally Field, his "Absence of Malice" costar.

His last academy nod was a supporting actor nomination for the 2002 film "Road to Perdition."
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.

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.

In the 1970s, Newman, admittedly bored with acting, became fascinated with auto racing. After turning pro in 1977, Newman and his driving team made strong showings in major races, including fifth place in Daytona in 1977 and second place in the Le Mans in 1979.

In 1982, Newman and writer A.E. Hotchner, a neighbor, started a company to sell Newman's original oil-and-vinegar dressing. Newman's Own began as a joke but 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. By 2007, the company had donated more than $250 million, its Web site says.

"Our father was a rare symbol of selfless humility, the last to acknowledge what he was doing was special," his daughters said in a statement.

What are your thoughts and memories of Paul Newman? What was your favourite of his films?