After choosing to discontinue treatment, Newman left the hospital to spend his last days with his family at his home in Westport, Connecticut, where he died Sept. 26, 2008, at the age of 83. Today, September 26, 2023, 15 years after his death, we at PETRI have decided to celebrate his legend that rides the waves of time without fading.
"I was a bad boxer, a disappointing American football player, tennis player, badminton player, a bad skier. I never had the gift of grace in sports. Then one day I said to myself, I'm going to be a decent driver instead ..."
The greatest of his time, in the tail end of Hollywood's Golden Age, Paul Newman with his eloquent physical presence, innocent look and bright smile, left us memorable characters, such as the alcoholic former athlete and cold husband of Liz Taylor in The Cat on the Hot Tin Roof (1958) or the arrogant pool player in The Hustler (1961) or the con man paired with Robert Redford in The Sting (1973). He loved to embody flaky, individualistic antiheroes, although in real life he was a generous philanthropist. He sought challenges, even off the set, as when he stepped on the accelerator of the Porsche 935 in which he competed in the 24 Hours of Le Mans in 1979.
"It's no use being an artist if you have to live like a clerk."
He won an Oscar in 1987 for The Color of Money and two others, for lifetime achievement (1986) and the Jean Hersholt Humanitarian Award (1994) for his merits as a do-gooder.
"I didn't have a natural gift to be anything-not an athlete, not an actor, much less a writer or director or painter of garden porches-nothing. So I worked very hard, because nothing ever came easy to me."
Acting in 65 films over the course of 50 years, Newman played tragic characters, anti-heroes and rebel figures in such classics as Cool Hand Luke, Long Hot Summer and, of course, the classic Butch Cassidy and Sundance Kid. He had a natural charm that shone through in every role he played and subsequently in every film he directed. He was nominated for numerous awards and even won Oscars during his career.
George Clooeny said of him, "He set the bar too high for us, not just actors, but all of us."
But Paul Newman was not just acting: he was much more. In addition to his film career, he was known for his charity work and, of course, for his eponymous Newman's Own. Now found on supermarket shelves across the country, Newman's Own was founded when he decided to sell some of his homemade salad dressings just for fun. But as soon as the story took off, he asked his writer friend AE Hotchner for help. Almost three decades later, Newman's Own has expanded into a food empire with a wide variety of offerings. According to the company, all profits are donated to charity.
"I am a supporter of gay rights. And I am not a supporter of secrecy. From the time I was a child, I was never able to understand the attacks on the gay community. There are so many qualities that make up a human being ... gotten to the point where I go through all the things I admire a lot about people, what they do with their private parts is probably so far down the list that it's irrelevant."
He also created Hole in the Wall Gang Camps, named after Butch Cassidy's outlaw gang and where most of the profits for Newman's Own went. These camps were designed to provide free recreational activities for children with serious and debilitating illnesses, and Newman continued to be actively involved in the cause throughout his life. Newman also found happiness in driving a race car. He was also an incredibly successful race car driver, going so far as to race at Daytona as a gift for his 70th birthday.
"There's no use applying the brakes if you're going in the wrong direction."
Paul embodied the style that Ralph Lauren also later inspired, the sporty but elegant American, a sort of star-spangled version of the Anglo-Saxon gentleman: you can't help but remember him, you can't help but love him. Casual chic composed of simple garments, such as chinos and white shirt or striped shirt, loafers or the legendary Sperry on his feet.
An undisputed legend, in short, an example of elegance and style, a man who deeply loved his art, his audience and his family.
Thank you Paul for inspiring us every day.