LOS ANGELES (Reuters) - The death of film legend Paul Newman sparked an outpouring of reaction on Saturday with friends remembering the Oscar winner for his cool acting style and his warm, charitable heart.
Newman, known for roles in films including “Cat on a Hot Tin Roof,” “The Hustler,” “The Sting,” and “Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid,” died at his Westport, Connecticut, home on Friday night at age 83 after a long battle with cancer. His wife of 50 years, Joanne Woodward, and family were at his side.
Friends and associates remembered his talent that earned Newman nine Oscar nominations, his passion for auto racing and his philanthropy through such causes as his Newman’s Own Foundation and Hole-In-the-Wall camps for sick children.
“There is a point where feelings go beyond words,” said Robert Redford, his longtime friend and co-star in “Butch Cassidy” and “The Sting.” “I have lost a real friend. My life — and this country — is better for his being in it.”
“He comes from that era of actors along with the Deans, Brandos and Clifts that I, that we all looked at, as actors who changed the art form,” said Leonardo DiCaprio.
Eva Marie Saint, who starred with Newman in “Exodus,” said: “Yes, his eyes were that blue and beautiful. ... His legacy as a humanitarian for children around the world is unmatchable.”
Indeed, in 1982 Newman co-founded Newman’s Own food products and decided to funnel much of his profits to charity. Over the years, his Newman’s Own Foundation has given some $250 million to charitable and other organizations.
Newman sponsored 11 Hole-In-The-Wall camps worldwide that helped 135,000 kids experience the fun and healing powers of outdoor activities.
“His heart and soul were dedicated to helping make the world a better place for all,” said Newman’s Own Foundation Vice Chairman Robert Forrester.
Along with philanthropy, Newman was active in liberal political causes, and former President Bill Clinton and Sen. Hillary Clinton on Saturday offered their condolences.
“Paul was an American icon, philanthropist and champion for children,” the Clintons said. “Our prayers and thoughts are with Joanne and the Newman family and the many people who Paul impacted through his endless kindness and generosity.”
From the world of auto racing, where Newman proved to be as adept a driver as he was an actor, McLaren Formula One team boss Ron Dennis said Newman “was one of those very few people for whom the term ‘megastar’ was no exaggeration.”
But perhaps the most poignant words came from Newman himself, via a statement from his five daughters.
“Always and to the end, Dad was incredibly grateful for his good fortune,” they said. “In his own words: “It’s been a privilege to be here.”
Writing by Bob Tourtellotte; Editing by Vicki Allen