Paul Leonard Newman was born on January 26, 1925 in Cleveland, Ohio, to Arthur Sigmund Newman and Theresa. His father ran a profitable sporting goods store while his mother was a homemaker. He had one older brother.
His mother loved the theater, an interest which Paul inherited. He loved acting in his school plays though as a youngster he dreamed of becoming a professional athlete as he also played football.
He graduated from Shaker Heights High School in 1943 and attended Ohio University in Athens for a short while.
Paul Newman enlisted in the U.S. Navy Air Corps and served as a radio operator during the later stages of the World War II. Upon his return to civilian life he completed his Bachelor of Arts degree in drama and economics at Kenyon College in 1949.
He started working with summer stock companies and toured with them, developing his acting skills in the process. He furthered his training at the Yale School of Drama and then moved to New York City to study under Lee Strasberg at the Actors Studio.
He made his Broadway debut in William Inge’s ‘Picnic’ in 1953. During this time he also started appearing on television and made his Hollywood debut as well. However, his first film, ‘The Silver Chalice’ (1954) was a flop.
He finally gained attention for his smoldering looks and acting talents in 1956 when he appeared in ‘Somebody Up There Likes Me’ as Rocky Graziano. Another hit followed soon when he starred in ‘Cat on a Hot Tin Roof’ (1958) opposite Elizabeth Taylor.
In 1960, he appeared in Otto Preminger’s epic film ‘Exodus’ based on the novel by Leon Uris about the founding of Israel. His career thrived during the 1960s with films like ‘The Hustler’ (1961), ‘Hud’ (1963), ‘Harper’ (1966), ‘Hombre’ (1967), and ‘Cool Hand Luke’ (1967).
He turned director in 1968 with the drama film ‘Rachel, Rachel’ which starred his wife as the title character. The film earned him the Golden Globe Award for Best Director – Motion Picture and New York Film Critics Circle Award for Best Director.
His successful career continued throughout the 1970s and 1980s. In 1986, he appeared in one of his best known movies, ‘The Color of Money’, in the role of Fast Eddie Felson, which won him many awards and accolades. He remained active in films well into the last decade of his life.
In addition to being a movie star, he also had a deep interest in motorsports and was a frequent competitor in Sports Car Club of America (SCCA) events and won several national championships as a driver.
ACHIEVEMENTS AND AWARDS
He portrayed pool hustler and stakehorse Edward “Fast Eddie” Felson in the drama film ‘The Color of Money’ in 1986, based on the eponymous 1984 novel by Walter Tevis. The film received critical praise and Newman’s performance was especially lauded.
His role of Donald J. “Sully” Sullivan in the 1994 comedy-drama film ‘Nobody’s Fool’ was another one of his memorable performances. Highly received by film critics, Newman’s performance was said to be “the single best of this year and among the finest he has ever given”.
Along with writer A. E. Hotchner, Newman co-founded Newman’s Own, a line of food products, in 1982. He donated all post-tax profits and royalties from this business to charity. As of December 2014, he had donated in excess of $400 million.
He co-founded the SeriousFun Children’s Network in 1988, a program which funds camps for children who are seriously ill, including those with HIV/AIDS, Sickle-cell disease, cancer, and other serious illnesses. The network has served 290,076 children since its inception.
Paul Newman won the BAFTA Award for Best Actor in a Leading Role, the Laurel Award for Top Male Dramatic Performance and Mar del Plata Film Festival Award for Best Actor for his performance as Eddie Felson in ‘The Hustler’ (1961).
He received an honorary Academy Award in 1986 for his “many and memorable and compelling screen performances.”
In 1986, he won the Academy Award for Best Actor for his role as Fast Eddie Felson in ‘The Color of Money.’
For the film ‘Nobody’s Fool’ (1994), he won several awards including National Society of Film Critics Award for Best Actor, New York Film Critics Circle Award for Best Actor, and Silver Bear for Best Actor.
In 1994, Paul Newman and his wife received the Award for Greatest Public Service Benefiting the Disadvantaged, an award given out annually by Jefferson Awards.