GOODBYE, BLUE EYES
“If my eyes should ever turn brown, my career is shot to hell,” Paul Newman once joked. No one could deny the magic of those baby blues, not even the heartthrob himself. But after a decades-long screen career and an even more astonishing philanthropic one, the world says goodbye to the gentle-hearted Oscar winner, who died of cancer Friday at age 83.
BODY OF WORK
Wife Joanne Woodward said the first time she saw Newman, he was “too pretty for words.” His chiseled face proved a magnet for moviegoers, too, as the actor grinned and bared it through Cat on a Hot Tin Roof, Harper and The Long, Hot Summer – to name a few.
LOVE AND MARRIAGE
Though they first became acquainted while working on the Broadway play Picnic in 1953, Newman and Woodward wouldn’t fall in love until reuniting on the set of The Long Hot Summer. Following a divorce from his first wife Jackie, Newman and Woodward tied the knot in Las Vegas on Feb. 2, 1958, starting what would be one of Hollywood’s longest-lasting unions. When asked why he never strayed, the actor famously said, “Why fool around with hamburger when you have steak at home?”
ON THE SET
A twist of fate landed Newman his breakthrough role as pouty but tough boxer Rocky Graziano in 1956’s Somebody Up There Likes Me – the movie James Dean had signed on to make before his untimely death. Newman (pictured on the set) came out swinging, with the New York Times calling him “funny, tough and pathetic in that slouching, rolling, smirking Brando style.”
The actor became an outspoken political activist in the ’60s, rallying behind 1968 Democratic Presidential hopeful Eugene McCarthy. His activism led Newman to be named to Richard Nixon’s infamous “enemies” list. Unruffled, Newman – then still without an Oscar to his name – deadpanned, “Send G. Gordon Liddy to pick up my award.”
Newman makes it a family affair in 1974, filming a television special with his wife and daughters Melissa and Clea. The actor had three girls with Woodward (including the oldest, Nell), and two, Susan and Stephanie, from a previous marriage to Jacqueline Witte.
GONE TOO SOON
Newman’s only son, Scott – here with his father in 1972 – died of an accidental drug-and-alcohol overdose in 1978. Of their relationship, Newman said, “I had lost the ability to help him … we both backed away.” In his memory, the actor started the Scott Newman Center, a Torrance, Calif., drug-abuse prevention facility.
Newman picked up the racing bug when making the 1969 film Winning. “I’d like to assume the role of elder statesman, taking walks in the woods and going fishing,” he told PEOPLE, “but here I am, forever strapping myself into these machines.”
Speaking at the 1990 commencement ceremony at Sarah Lawrence College – where his daughter Clea and wife Joanne, who had been working toward a bachelor’s degree for 10 years, were among the grads – the ever-devoted husband joked that he had dreamed a woman asked him, “How dare you accept this invitation to give the commencement address when you are merely hanging on to the coattails of the accomplishments of your wife?”
After seven nominations and no Oscars, Newman took home an honorary Academy Award in 1986. A year later, he finally won Best Actor for The Color of Money – but wasn’t present at the ceremony to accept the statuette himself.
It started in 1982 with an oil-and-vinegar salad dressing, the signature offering from his Newman’s Own grocery line. Since then, the business has expanded into popcorn, sauce and more and has raised an estimated $250 million – with all proceeds going toward charitable organizations. Said Newman (here at the company’s 20th anniversary bash), it’s “mutually beneficial recycling from the haves to the have-nots.”
In 1988 Newman started the Hole in the Wall Gang Camp – named after the band of outlaws in Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid – in Ashford, Conn., as a getaway for children with cancer and blood-related diseases. “I didn’t turn in my citizenship card when I got my screen actor’s card,” he once said.
Newman and Woodward never seemed to falter in their appreciation for one another, and became a symbol of lasting love in Hollywood, celebrating their 50th wedding anniversary in February. “Sexiness wears thin after awhile and beauty fades,” Woodward has said, “but to be married to a man who makes you laugh every day, ah, now that’s a real treat!”