The blue-eyed star of ‘Butch Cassidy and Sundance Kid’, one of the greatest Hollywood stars of the 20th century, Paul Newman, is also an inspiration to the new generation of entrepreneurs.
He was born Paul Leonard Newman on 26th January 1925 in Shaker Heights, Cleveland. His love for the theater was encouraged by his family and he debuted as a child star at the age of 7 in a school production of ‘Robin Hood’. After graduating from high school he attended Ohio University for some time before he was expelled for a mischievous act. He tried to enlist in the army but got rejected on the grounds that he was color blind. Instead he settled for a radio operator and gunner position. After the war ended he completed his graduation in 1949 and then joined the Yale School of Drama for a year before he moved to New York in 1951.
His first movie for Hollywood was ‘The Silver Chalice’ (1954) that turned out to be a flop. This did not discourage Newman as he was determined to make his mark. By 1958 Newman was known as the hottest star of the film industry. He starred in numerous hit films such as ‘Cat on a Hot Tin Roof’ (1958), ‘The Long, Hot Summer’ (1958), ‘Somebody Up There Likes Me’ (1956), ‘Cool Hand Luke’ (1967) and ‘Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid’ (1969). In addition to acting, Newman also directed some feature films that include ‘Harry and Son’ (1984), ‘Rachel, Rachel’ (1968), ‘The Effect of Gamma Rays on Man-in-the-Moon Marigolds’ (1972), ‘The Glass Menagerie’ (1987) and ‘The Shadow Box’ (1980). His last works include ‘Our Town’ a Broadway revival in 2003 for which he won the Tony Award. His last appearance on screen was a role in ‘Road to Perdition’ in 2002 however he did continue to do voice works for films. He announced his retirement from acting in 2007.
To the new generation who are not quite aware of the height of his success in films, recognize him for ‘the guy who owns a food company’. Newman founded ‘Newman’s Own’ in 1982. It was a brand that had begun with homemade salad dressings and then grew to a successful food chain. Newman decided to donate all profits of this chain, excluding taxes, to charity. The company has donated more than 300 million dollars to various charities all over the world since its establishment in 1982. An organic foods division of the company, named ‘Newman’s Own Organics’ started in 1993 on the suggestion of his daughter which became a separate company in 2003; its profits are still donated to charity. His food chain did not just have Newman’s name but it gave the people a quality experience and that is what made it successful. One of Newman’s beneficiaries is ‘Hole in the Wall Camps’ which are summer getaways for children with serious diseases. He was also one of the founding members of ‘Committee Encouraging Corporate Philanthropy’ which was established in 1999.
This generous philanthropist, Magnetic Titan of Hollywood and highly successful food entrepreneur died at the age of 83 on 26th September 2008.