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Actor, activist, and philanthropist Paul Newman died at 83 on this date in 2008. Newman was the son of a Jewish father and a Christian Scientist mother, but described himself in his adulthood as a Jew, saying that “it’s more of a challenge.” Known for his good looks, piercing blue eyes (yet he was colorblind), and rebellious persona, he broke into the movies in 1954 and was a hot new star by 1958, when he appeared with Elizabeth Taylor in Cat on a Hot Tin Roof. Newman also starred in Exodus (1960), The Hustler (1961), Hud (1963), Cool Hand Luke (1967), Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid (1969), and The Sting (1973), among many other compelling, popular movies. He often acted across from his wife, Joanne Woodward, most notably in Mr. and Mrs. Bridge (1990), and he directed her in several other dramas. He won the Best Actor Academy Award in 1986 for his role in Martin Scorsese’s The Color of Money. Opposed to the Vietnam War and politically progressive on many fronts, Newman was 19th on Richard Nixon’s “Enemies List.” He was a major financial backer of The Nation magazine, an active supporter of gay rights, and one of Hollywood’s most generous philanthropists, particularly through Newman’s Own brands of food, which he founded in 1982 with the writer A. E. Hotchner; the company donates all of its millions in profits to charity.
“If you don’t have enemies, you don’t have character.” —Paul Newman
Watch Paul Newman and Joanne Woodward as mystery guests on “What’s My Line?” in 1959: