Screen Legend Paul Newman Dies at Age 83

Spokesman confirms Hollywood icon's death Friday from cancer.

ByABC News
September 27, 2008, 10:10 AM

Sept. 27, 2008 — -- Hollywood icon Paul Newman died Friday of cancer, his spokesman said. He was 83 years old.

In June, after he was photographed looking gaunt and sickly at an Indianapolis 500 event, reports surfaced that Newman was suffering from cancer.

"It's a form of cancer and he's dealing with it," A.E. Hotchner, a writer who partnered with Newman to start Newman's Own salad dressing company in the 1980s, told The Associated Press.

Newman's last screen appearance was as a conflicted mob boss in 2002's "Road to Perdition" opposite Tom Hanks, although he continued to do voice work on films. He provided the voice of Doc Hudson, a retired race car in Disney/Pixar's 2006 film "Cars."

The news sent shockwaves throughout Hollywood. "He set the bar too high for the rest of us -- not just actors, but all of us," George Clooney said through a spokesman. "He will be greatly missed."

Julia Roberts said simply, "He was my hero."

Director Martin Scorcese was more discursive. "It's a great loss, in so many ways," he said. "The history of movies without Paul Newman? It's unthinkable. His presence, his beauty, his physical eloquence, the emotional complexity he could conjure up and transmit through his acting in so many movies – where would we be without him?... But in addition to being a great actor, one of the greatest really, he was also such a fine, caring man. I will miss him greatly."

Newman's cool blue eyes could have made him a matinee idol, but he was never one to rely on his looks. Instead, he made his name in the late 1950s and 1960s playing troubled loners and rebels without a cause.

The face that in later years smiled from products on grocery store shelves on countless "Newman's Own" products, promising, "All profits go to charity," was once that of the smoldering star of such films as "The Hustler," "Hud," "Hombre" and "Cool Hand Luke."

But he could do comedy, too, as he showed in "Butch Cassisdy and the Sundance Kid," and "The Sting," both with Robert Redford. And even after his hair went gray, his acting chops still brought him leading roles, such as the down-and-out lawyer in "The Verdict" and his reprisal of pool shark "Fast Eddie" Felson in "The Color of Money," with Tom Cruise.

Born Jan. 26, 1925, in Cleveland, Newman began acting in elementary school, starred in plays in high school and -- after a stint in the Navy -- at Kenyon College. He also spent a year at the Yale Drama School.