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Lone wreath for modest icon Paul Newman

By David Usborne

A lone wrath lay atop Paul Newman's star on Hollywood Boulevard yesterday as tributes continued to pour in for an actor whose career spanned six decades but who in life spurned celebrity culture and found just as much joy in car-racing and charitable work for children.

Family members were gathered at his home in Westport, Connecticut, to begin making funeral arrangements for the man considered by many to have been the last of the silver-screen greats of the 20th century alongside the likes of Marlon Brando and James Dean.

While Mr Newman, who died at his house from cancer late on Friday night at the age of 83, touched the lives of millions both through his acting accomplishments and his philanthropic work, he is likely to be laid to rest with the same restraint and sense of humility for which he was known.

“His death was as private and discreet as the way he had lived his life, a humble artist who never thought of himself as ‘big,'” said a statement released by his family on Saturday.

Mr Newman, a ten-time Oscar nominee who was often cast as the anti-hero rebel in films ranging from Cool Hand Luke to The Hustler and The Color of Money, announced in May last year that his acting days were over. This spring, he revealed he was abandoning plans to direct ‘Of Mice and Men' just as the first rumours that he was dying from lung cancer were starting to circulate — rumours he swatted away.

Last weekend Mr Newman sat in the garden of his home with one of his five daughters to share in some of the last rays of the summer sun. Apparently aware that he was slipping away, he reportedly turned and said to her, “It's been a privilege to be here”.

Newman appeared in some 60 movies and starred with his second wife, Joanne Woodward, in several films including Long Hot Summer and Paris Blues.

He received his only competitive Oscar in 1987 for The Color of Money but was given an honorary Oscar in 1986 and won a third in 1994, the Jean Hersholt Humanitarian Award, for his charitable work.

Mr Newman also leaves behind 11 summer camps for children with chronic diseases, built with money generated by Newman's Own, a purveyor of salad dressings, spaghetti sauces and popcorn.

The company generated $250 million in profits, all channelled into charitable endeavours.

Meanwhile, tributes have been paid from both sides of the Atlantic. Oscar-winning British director Sam Mendes, who worked with Newman on the 2002 film Road to Perdition, said it was “the highlight of my professional life”.

Mendes added: “It seems to me to be one of the great 20th century lives: he was famously generous, with his extraordinary and unstinting work for his charities; he was a passionate advocate for the adrenaline and danger of his beloved racing cars; he was a shining example of how to use global fame for the greater good; and most of all he was one of the great movie actors of this or any other age.”

Broadcaster Sir Michael Parkinson, who interviewed Newman for a documentary, said the star will be remembered as “one of the very finest screen actors of our time”.

Parkinson said Newman was a “quiet, reserved and suspicious” person who was deeply affected by

the death of his only son, Scott, from a drug overdose in 1978.

Robert Redford, who starred alongside Newman in Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid and The Sting, said: “I have lost a real friend. My life — and this country — is better for his being in it.”

British actor Daniel Craig, who appeared alongside Newman in Road to Perdition, said: “I think an era just ended.”

Oscar-winning actor Kevin Spacey described Newman as a “great humble giant”.

As a racing driver, Newman’s career highlight was his second place finish in the Le Mans 24 Hours race of 1979. Formula One’s McLaren chief Ron Dennis told Autosport magazine: “Paul Newman was one of those very few people for whom the term ‘megastar’ was no exaggeration: truly, he was a legend of the silver screen.”

Mr Newman is survived by his wife, five children, two grandsons and his older brother Arthur.

Belfast Telegraph


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