Paul Newman

Paul Newman was an American actor and film director. He was born on January 26, 1925 in Shaker Heights, Ohio. His dad, Arthur Samuel Newman was Jewish from Poland and Hungary, and his mother Theresa Fetzer was from Slovakia. Newman had no religion as an adult, but he described himself as “a Jew” because he thought it was “more of a challenge”.

Very early is his childhood, he realized that he was interested in theatre and his mother encouraged him. He made his acting debut at 7 years old in a school production of “Robin Hood”. But later in his life he was to become a pilot and served in the United States Navy in World War II in the Pacific Theatre, and enrolled in the Navy V-12 program at Ohio University, hoping to be accepted for pilot training. That’s how he discovered that he was color blind. Anyway, he worked on torpedo bombers as a rear-seat radioman and as a turret gunner until the end of the war.

Then, in 1949, he graduated from Kenyon College in Ohio and in 1954, he graduated in Drama from Yale University, in New Haven, Connecticut. Right after his graduation, he made his Broadway theater debut with Kim Stanley in “Picnic” of William Inge. He also started his movie career in Hollywood the same year with “The Silver Chalice”, and from this time on, he went from movie to movie for the following 20 years and more. And in May 2007, Paul Newman announced that he would retire from acting because he didn’t feel he could continue acting at the level he wanted to.

In May, 2008, he stepped down as director of a stage production of John Steinbeck’s “Of Mice and Men” set to open Oct. 7 at the Westport Country Playhouse, citing unspecified health issues.

In a 1997 book about Newman, biographer Lawrence J. Quirk quoted the actor as saying: “I’d like to be remembered as a guy who tried – tried to be part of his times, tried to help people communicate with one another, tried to find some decency in his own life, tried to extend himself as a human being. Someone who isn’t complacent, who doesn’t cop out.”

In September 2008, Paul Newman died at his Westport home. He was 83.

Paul Newman and Joanne Woodward lived in a charming colonial home on a pristine 10.46-acre estate located at 277 and 275 North Avenue in the Coleytown section of town, an area particularly rich in history. Long before the Newmans moved in, the Coley family owned the property for close to 200 years. Unconfirmed rumors suggest the main house was a stop along the Underground Railroad.

What a sad day. To be sure, Paul Newman was an international celebrity. However, as a neighbor here in Westport, we knew him as a citizen who was active in our community, and as a philanthropist whose generosity made a difference in the lives of the many people he sought to help. I can’t count the number of times when people learned you were from from Westport, they would invariably say – “Oh!, that’s where Paul Newman lives.” I had that reaction from a sales person when I stopped in at the Royal Pools and Spas store in Newburgh, NY. A friend whom I was visiting in Newburgh said they were having a sale on pool supplies orange county, so I decided to stop buy as I was heading home to Connecticut. Great store for not only pool supplies, but also above ground pools. They actually have three stores in the Orange County. I certainly would utilize them if I lived in the area. As it was, they were a convenient stop on my way home to Westport.

As I was saying: Here’s to a prolific actor, giver and friend to thousands—Mr. Paul Newman. I know that when we say “Goodbye to folks like him, it’s only the beginning of their cosmic journey. Positive energy such as his lives on forever and continues to give, heal, encourage, embrace & love through eternity.” We will miss you.

Paul Newman was not only a wonderful actor and director, but he was also a businessman who founded with writer A.E. Hotchner, the “Newman’s Own”, a line of food products, in 1982. And, as an amazing philanthropist he was,  he was able to afford multiple waterfront real estate properties, but instead established a policy that all proceeds, after taxes, would be donated to charity, and as a result, in 2006, the company donated 250 million dollars to charities.

This is a great thing in this day and age to see. I wish that there were more people just like him, willing to set an example through their actions. We see all too often, superstars from Hollywood behaving badly. I can give you just one personal example of superstars from Hollywood behaving badly. This regards their driving and doing drugs and / or alcohol and plowing into some one else’s car. You see the tabloids reporting this type of bad behavior all the time. But when it happens to you, it gets a whole lot more personal. My companion and I were both seriously injured in a car accident with a rather well known Hollywood actor. It ended up that we needed to a car accident/injury lawyer since the actor’s insurance company was leaning on us to settle quickly. Obviously the actor didn’t want a lawsuit. Our car accident lawyer decided to first try negotiating rather than immediately file papers for a lawsuit. Since California is considered a fault or tort state with regard to auto accidents, a person must be found to be responsible for causing the accident before that person’s insurance will pay for damages. Well it was well established that the actor was at fault. Our car accident lawyer finally decided to take the actor to court since his insurance company was offering an OK amount, but not enough considering our injuries. The were eventually awarded a heft settlement, but I will always have a limp and scars on my shoulder, arms, and legs. This was definitely a case of Hollywood behaving badly .

Such bad behavior is often times the easiest thing to notice about the rich and famous but there is definitely a much kinder and more responsible group as well. You never see or hear about them because they are not really tabloid friendly. You know the kind that is always in the headlines for one reason or another, usually for something negative though. They should take a lesson from Mr. Newman here and change their ways.

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