A biography for Paul Newman

January 17th, 2013

Paul Newman's Biography

Paul Newman found fame in many different areas of endeavor, from being an actor and a director to being a racing driver and a humanitarian. Newman was also a very successful businessman, being the cofounder of Newman's Own. From his business profits, Newman had donated hundreds of millions of dollars to charity.

Early Life

Newman was born in a suburb of Cleveland on Jan. 26, 1925. Newman's father, Arthur, was Jewish, while his mother, Theresa, was of Hungarian origin. Although his father had a strong focus on Judaism and his mother believed in Christian Science, Newman did not adhere to any religion throughout his life. Early on in his life, Newman showed a passion for theater, so his mother pushed him towards it. After Newman graduated from Shaker Heights High School at the age of eighteen, he served in the U.S. Navy during World War II. Newman was deployed to the Pacific theater, where he became a radioman and gunner. After the war ended, Newman studied Bachelor of Arts in English and Speech at Kenyon College in Ohio. After graduating in 1949, Newman received further training at the Yale School of Drama and also studied under Lee Strasberg at the Actors Studio in New York.

Acting and Directing Film

After moving to New York with his young wife, Jackie, Newman was involved with a number of Broadway productions. While he was involved with theater, Newman did make some forays into television and film. In 1954, Newman acted in his first Hollywood film, "The Silver Chalice." However, the movie was bombed, so Newman's dreams to make it big in Hollywood had to be put on hold for a few years. 1958 was a breakthrough of sorts for Newman. He starred alongside Elizabeth Taylor in "Cat on a Hot Tin Roof." The film was a resounding success, and Newman received his first Academy Award nomination. After his divorce five years earlier, Newman starred opposite Joanne Woodward in "The Long, Hot Summer." Woodward married Newman that same year, and the pair remained together for fifty years until Newman's death. Newman's role in "The Long, Hot Summer" also resulted in his winning the Best Actor award at the Cannes Film Festival. In 1968, Newman directed his first motion picture, "Rachel, Rachel," and he won the Golden Globe Award for Best Director. Throughout the rest of his film career, Newman only directed a handful of films.

From the 1960s until the early 1980s, Newman was nominated for the Academy Award for Best Actor on multiple occasions, yet he missed four times. Finally, at the age of sixty-two, Newman won the Academy Award for Best Actor for playing Eddie Felson in "The Color of Money," which was directed by Martin Scorsese. For Newman, the award fulfilled a lifelong dream. Throughout the 1990s and early 2000s, Newman only acted in films sporadically, mostly lending his voice to a cartoon character.

Business Venture

In 1982, along with his writer friend Aaron Hotchner, Newman founded Newman's Own, a food business intended to help local charities. During the firm's early years, Newman created the policy that all proceeds of the business would be allocated for charity. Since the business was formed more than thirty years ago, Newman's Own has donated over US$300 million to a variety of charities. In 1988, Newman cofounded Hole in the Wall Gang Camp, which became a summer camp for terminally ill children. Since that time, the camp has expanded to countries such as France, Israel, and Ireland and caters for 13,000 children each year. In 1999, Newman donated US$250,000 to assist refugees caught up in the conflict in Kosovo. During 2007, a year before he passed away, Newman gave US$10 million to Kenyon College for the purpose of establishing a college scholarship fund.

Auto Racing Career

Newman developed his love of auto racing at the Watkins Glen Racing School while filming "Winning" in 1969. Newman's passion for racing cars grew from there, and he raced in his first professional event in Connecticut in 1972. Throughout the 1970s, Newman was a regular driver at Sports Car Club of America (SCCA) events. Newman was also interested in the management side of racing, so he, along with Bill Freeman, formed Newman Freeman Racing. In 1979, Newman drove Dick Barbour's Porsche 935 in the 24 Hours of Le Mans race and finished a creditable second place. In 1983, Newman formed Newman/Haas Racing with Carl Haas. In 2009, Newman was posthumously included in the SCCA Hall of Fame for his services to the sport of auto racing.


In June 2008, Paul Newman was reported to have been diagnosed with lung cancer. Newman began receiving treatment at a New York City hospital. After going through two months of chemotherapy treatment, Newman asked to be allowed to go home to be with his family. On Sept. 26, 2008, at the age of eighty-three, Paul Newman died in his Westport Connecticut home surrounded by those closest to him.