(Reuters) - Legendary film star and philanthropist Paul Newman, whose brilliant blue eyes, good looks and talent made him one of Hollywood’s top actors over six decades, has died, a spokesman said on Saturday. He was 83 and had been battling cancer.
Following are some facts about Newman:
* Newman was nominated for Academy Awards for acting in “Cat on a Hot Tin Roof,” “The Hustler,” “Hud,” “Cool Hand Luke,” “Absence of Malice,” “The Verdict,” “Nobody’s Fool” and “The Road to Perdition,” as well best film for directing wife Joanne Woodward in “Rachel, Rachel.” He won as best actor for “The Color of Money” in 1986.
* He started the Newman’s Own food line in 1982 with salad dressing and later added popcorn, salsa, marinades, spaghetti sauce, lemonade, cereal and steak sauce. The products generated more than $200 million in donations to charities. Newman also founded camps for severely ill children and a foundation to fight drug abuse.
* Married since 1958 to a fellow Oscar winner, the actress Joanne Woodward, Newman had one of Hollywood’s rare enduring marriages. Asked for the secret, Newman said he had no reason to roam: “I have steak at home. Why should I go out for a hamburger?”
* Newman’s trademark blue eyes were color blind, which prevented him from pursuing his goal of becoming a Navy pilot in World War Two.
* A supporter of liberal Democratic presidential nominee Eugene McCarthy in 1968, Newman ended up on President Richard Nixon’s “enemies list.” He said it was “the highest single honor I’ve ever received.”
* His starring role in “Winning” in 1969 inspired Newman to pursue auto racing. His first professional race was in 1972 and he continued competing into his 70s.
* Newman was so ashamed of his first movie role, the 1954 flop “The Silver Chalice,” that he took out a newspaper ad in Los Angeles to apologize.
* His last major film acting role was playing a gangster opposite Tom Hanks in “Road to Perdition” in 2002. It earned him an Oscar nomination but in 2007 Newman told ABC TV that his acting career was essentially over. “I’m not able to work any more as an actor and still at the level I would want to ... so that’s pretty much a closed book for me,” he said.
* Newman had a reputation for practical jokes and reportedly once cut director George Roy Hill’s desk in half with a chainsaw and put 300 chicks into director Robert Altman’s trailer.
Writing by Bill Trott; Editing by Patricia Zengerle