(Shaker Heights, Ohio, U.S.A., 1925 – Westport, Connecticut, U.S.A., 2008)

Son of Arthur, a Jewish man of German origins and a sporting goods merchant, and of the Hungarian Theresa Fetzer, young Paul Newman distinguished himself during his college years in the sports of basket and baseball for his clear talent. He graduated with a degree in Science at the Kenyon College at the end of the 1940s, and wanted to start a career in the Navy but since he was colorblind, his small vision problem precluded him the access to military career. In those years he entered a small theater company where he met another aspiring actress, Jackie Witte, whom he married in 1949. He attended the Drama Art School of Yale University and at the beginning of the 1950s he took part in the Actor’s Studio in New York. He debuted on Broadway in Picnic. His first role as an actor in a Hollywood production was in the film The silver chalice (1954) by Victor Saville; it was not a success because of the script. The cinematographic critics later on said that this horrible film had the sole merit of making Paul Newman known to the public. The great public success arrived with his third movie Somebody up there likes me, that tells the story of Rocky Graziano, a part that was given to Newman after the premature death of James Dean. From that time on, he had a series of very fortunate movies which are still nowadays aired on television. In 1958 Newman won the award as best actor at the Cannes Festival for The Long, Hot Summer. In 1961 he also took the challenge of directing a film, at first with a 28 minute short inspired by Cechov (On the Harmfulness of Tobacco) and then with the film Rachel, Rachel in which his second wife Joanne Woodward acted. His activity continued without interruption, so much that in 1986 he won an Oscar as best actor for The color of money directed by Martin Scorsese. In 1991 Paul Newman accepted to play the role of a forgetful Santa Claus who was left without gifts in the Christmas spot for Barilla filmed in Canada among the spotless snow of the reservation of the Black Feet Indians, and in Connecticut, and directed by Bob Giraldi, the last spot of the first series of the fortunate Where there’s Barilla there’s home campaign. In 1994 he acted for the Coen Brothers in Mister Hula Hoop and five years later he co starred with Kevin Costner in The words I never said to you directed by Luis Madoki, and then he acted the role of a clever and nice outlaw in For the love of money by Marek Kanievska in 1999. A passionate car racer, he participated in the Le Mans circuit with his Porsche and in 2000 risked his life during a race on the Daytona circuit. In his private life he showed to be very generous: he founded a food empire, Newman’s Own to devolve the money to charitable causes, especially in support of children with cancer. For this effort he was awarded the “Jean Hersholdt Humanitarian Oscar” in 1994.

Cecilia Farinelli