Paul Newman, the legendary actor whose film career spanned more than 50 years, died Saturday. He was 83.
The star of such films as “The Hustler,” “Cool Hand Luke,” “Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid” and “The Color of Money,” Newman also earned widespread acclaim as an entrepreneur and the founder and co-owner of Newman/Haas Racing.Newman reportedly had been diagnosed with lung cancer in June 2008, just over 13 months after he announced his retirement from acting.
Aside from “The Hustler” and “The Color of Money,” for which he won an Academy Award as Best Actor, Newman appeared in other sports movies, including a portrayal of former middleweight boxing champion Rocky Graziano in “Somebody Up The Likes Me.”
Among his more memorable roles among sports buffs was that of hockey player-coach Reg Dunbar in the rollicking comedy “Slap Shot,” which details a minor league hockey team which turns to violence to keep the bedraggled franchise afloat.
Newman’s own interest in auto racing was sparked during his acting career - he became involved in the sport while filming the 1969 film “Winning.”
Three years later, Newman competed in his first event at Thompson Speedway in northeastern Connecticut.
In 1982, Newman and Carl A. Haas formed Newman/Haas Racing, which competed in the CART/Champ Car World Series (CCWS) from 1983-2007.Last year, the team name was revised to Newman/Haas/Lanigan Racing (NHLR) to include new partner Mike Lanigan. The 2008 season marked the team’s first in the IndyCar Series, as the former Champ Car series joined Indy Racing league.
“On behalf of Newman/Haas/Lanigan Racing, my wife Bernadette and myself, I want to express our most sincere condolences to Joanne and the entire Newman family on the loss of a great human being,” Haas said in a statement Saturday. “Paul and I have been partners for 26 years and I have come to know his passion, humor and above all, his generosity. Not just economic generosity, but generosity of spirit. His support of the team’s drivers, crew and the racing industry is legendary.“His pure joy at winning a pole position or winning a race exemplified the spirit he brought to his life and to all those that knew him. We will truly miss him.”
Newman’s team amassed 107 victories and won 107 pole positions while capturing series championships eight times, including four consecutive from 2004-07.
“On behalf of my mother Mari Human George and the entire Hulman-George family at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway and IndyCar Series, our thoughts and prayers are with the family, friends and loved ones of Paul Newman,” said Tony George, the chief executive officer of the Indianapolis Motor Speedway and the founder and CEO of IRL.
“To all his fans worldwide and those close to him in our racing community, we share a deep sense of loss, but cherish the many fond memories we will forever carry with us.”
The actor also leaves a lasting legacy through the Hole in the Wall Gang Camp which he co-founded in 1988. The residential camp for serious ill children was named after Newman’s gang in “Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid.”
Newman donated the proceeds from a chain of food products he founded, “Newman’s Own,” to both the camp and a number of other charities.
“We truly lost a great man,” Lanigan said. “Most of us knew him as Butch or Fast Eddie from the theater or from our living rooms at home. He was much more than a great actor. His legacy will be his five children, his wife, Joanne and all the sick children around the world who desperately needed his help.
“Paul was a man of character who cared about the world and the people who lived in it. Putting a smile on a young person’s face and helping people in need was a virtue he excelled at. Little did anyone realize a child born of such humble beginnings could affect our lives in so many positive ways. We should all learn to live by his example. We will miss him dearly but will never forget him.”
Tony Stewart, a two-time NASCAR Sprint Cup series champion and former IndyCar series champ, said Newman’s outstanding charitable work should not get overshadowed by his immense on-screen persona.
“Paul Newman was a phenomenal individual who made a profound impact throughout his life,” Stewart said. “His acting skills are well-known, but equally impressive was his desire to give back and help those who just didn’t get the same shake out of life that we did.
“He set the bar, not only with his giving, but in how he gave. Whether it was through his own line of food products - Newman’s Own - or his work in helping create the Hole in the Wall Camps, Paul did it right, and he did it with class. He’ll be terribly missed.”
"If you're playing a poker game and you look around the table and and can't tell who the sucker is, it's you." - Paul Newman