Cool Hand waves goodbye

Screen legend Paul Newman died of cancer Friday at his home in Westport, Connecticut at the age of 83.

Newman was 25 when he attended Yale University’s School of Drama in 1950. There he was approached by agents who invited him to New York City to pursue professional acting. Blessed with striking good looks, sex appeal and a whole lot of talent, he would appear in a number of television shows before landing a role in his first movie, The Silver Chalice in 1954.

Newman received the first of his nine Oscar acting nominations in 1959 with Cat on a Hot Tin Roof opposite Elizabeth Taylor. His superstardom would skyrocket in the 1960s with three more Best Actor nominations with The Hustler (1961), Hud (1963) and Cool Hand Luke (1967). In 1969 he would team up with another superstar, Robert Redford, playing bank robbers in the smash hit Western, Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid. He would still command the screen in later years and would receive his Oscar for Best Acting in the Martin Scorsese billiards drama with Tom Cruise, The Color of Money (1986). In 2003 Newman was nominated for his ninth Oscar (for Support Acting) in Road to Perdition, a Tony award for Best Actor in a Revival Play for Our Town, and the Emmy for Our Town.

On May 25, 2007 he told ABC’s Good Morning America that he would be retiring from acting. “You start to lose your memory, you start to lose your confidence, you start to lose your invention. So I think that’s pretty much a closed book for me,” he said.

Newman was also well known as a philanthropist and humanitarian. His successful food company, Newman’s Own donates all of its proceeds to The Hole in the Gang Camps, a charity for seriously ill children which operates 11 camps around the world. As of 2007, the charity has donated close to US$220 million.

An avid race car driver, he became the oldest driver at age 70 to be part of a winning team in the 1995 24 Hours of Daytona in Florida. He would race again in the same event ten years after. Newman is survived by longtime wife, actress Joanne Woodward and five children.

(from reports of CNN, IMDB, AP)

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