Paul Newman, the Academy-Award winning legend who electrified the silver screen with his rugged good looks and piercing blue eyes, personifying cool with films like Cool Hand Luke and The Color of Money, has died. He was 83.
Newman passed away Friday after a long battle with cancer at his farmhouse near Westport, Conneticut, his publicist said. He was surrounded by his family and close friends.
As the sad news began to reach his fans, Paul’s daughter released a heartfelt statement to OK! about her beloved father:
“Paul Newman played many unforgettable roles. But the ones for which he was proudest never had top billing on the marquee.
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.
Always and to the end, Dad was incredibly grateful for his good fortune. In his own words: “It’s been a privilege to be here.”
He will be profoundly missed by those whose lives he touched, but he leaves us with extraordinary inspiration to draw upon.
During this difficult time, we ask for privacy for our family.”
In May, Newman had dropped out of a fall production of Of Mice and Men which he planned to direct, citing unspecified health issues.
Paul Newman was an actor, an avid race car enthusiast and an entrepreneur with a soft spot for the underpriviledged. He gave tens of millions to charities through his food company, setting up camps for severely ill children.
He 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 Oscars, winning one regular award and two honorary ones, and had major roles in more than 50 motion pictures, including Exodus, Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid, The Verdict, The Sting and Absence of Malice.
He 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 famously told Playboy magazine when asked if he was tempted to stray.
Married since 1958, the year they both appeared in The Long Hot Summer, Newman directed Woodward in several films, including Rachel, Rachel and The Glass Menagerie.
Despite his solid marriage, Newman remained an undeniable heartthrob, thrilling audiences and critics with his choice of films. He loved to play against his classic good looks, playing rebels, tough guys and losers.
”I was always a character actor,” he once said. ”I just looked like Little Red Riding Hood.”
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.” A year later he took home his first competitive Oscar for The Color of Money.
In 1994, Newman won a third Oscar, the Jean Hersholt Humanitarian Award, for his charitable work.
His most recent Oscar nod was for best supporting actor in the 2002 film Road to Perdition.
By the time he turned 80, Newman was still in high demand, winning an Emmy and a Golden Globe for the 2005 HBO film, Empire Falls and providing the voice of a 1951 car in the Disney-Pixar hit, Cars.
But in May of 2007, Newman told Good Morning America that he had given up acting but planned to remain active in his 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.”