With steely blue eyes, charismatic performances and a heart of gold to boot, actor Paul Newman cemented his place in Hollywood and pop culture in many ways.
He played different roles that helped define the kind of actor he really was. With a steady gaze and a ridiculously handsome mug, Paul Newman created an archetype of cool that was structured but effortless. Born Paul Leonard Newman on January 26, 1925 in Cleveland, Ohio, the well-known actor originally didn’t put acting as top priority. Reassessing his goals, Newman enlisted in the U.S. Navy Air Corps and wanted to be a pilot but he was told he could never be one since he was color blind.
The young Paul Newman wanted to be an athlete but was kicked out of the football team after running into trouble during his time attending school at Kenyon College in Ohio. Newman focused on acting after that and he never looked back. Paul made his Broadway debut in the Pulitzer Prize-winning comedy Picnic in 1953. It was on the set of Picnic where Newman met his would-be second wife, actor Joanne Woodward who also became a big movie star during the time.
Newman made his film debut in Silver Chalice but got poor reviews from critics. The actor starred in different movies like Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid, Somebody Up There Likes Me, Slap Shot, The Color of Money and The Young Philadelphians that defined his career. Although it was his portrayal of the outcast Luke Johnson in the 1967 classic Cool Hand Luke was the most iconic for me.
The devilishly handsome war veteran always had run-ins with the law and never seemed to fit in anywhere. Paul Newman played the character so well that you never had a moment not to root for the rebel. Luke Johnson was an outcast wherever he was – in society and even in prison. But that did not stop him from being loved by viewers as they witness Old Blue Eyes do his signature charming half smile.
Paul Newman was also a philanthropist. He founded Newman’s Own, a food company that gives all its earnings for different charitable pursuits and organizations. The man didn’t only have acting chops to boast but also an overflowing well of blessings to share. Paul Newman died on September 26, 2008, surrounded by family and friends after succumbing to lung cancer. The Academy Award winning actor, race car driver, style icon and philanthropist was 83.