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Hollywood icon Paul Newman dead at 83 Sat. Sep. 27 2008 10:54 PM ET CTV.ca News Staff

paulnewman2-1Hollywood legend Paul Newman, who won accolades for his roles in films such as “Cool Hand Luke” and “The Sting,” has died at age 83.

Newman, who had been battling cancer, passed away at his home near Westport, Conn., on Friday with family and friends by his side.

Newman’s movie career began in the 1950s and spanned six decades, making him one of the industry’s best-known stars. He often played rebellious mavericks and cultivated an enduring image of masculine cool that transcended his films and made him a cultural icon.

Alongside his wildly-successful motion picture career, Newman was a business man and race car driver who placed in the top five at some of the most competitive races in the U.S. during the 1970s.

The 10-time Oscar nominee was also an acclaimed director and a philanthropist who donated millions of dollars to charity.

Canadian actor Christopher Plummer, who first met Newman in the 1950s, said the blue-eyed thespian was a selfless anomaly in Hollywood.

“I miss him like mad,” Plummer told CTV Newsnet Saturday afternoon.

“He was modest, he shunned fame – he was an actual real person for a change,” he said, adding that Newman was a modest, generous man who lived modestly despite his international fame.

“He was totally un-actorish,” said Plummer.

In the early 1980s, Newman started up the “Newman’s Own” brand as a way to sell his homemade salad dressing. The company, which also made popcorn, spaghetti sauce and other products, has turned into a multi-million dollar business which has donated $175 million to charities.

Even in his 60s and 70s, Newman kept up an impressive production pace with such films as “The Road to Perdition” and “Message in a Bottle.” However, the star pulled out of a plan to remake the play “Of Mice and Men” last spring because of health problems.

Even some of Hollywood’s biggest names were star struck by Newman.

“He’d slug me if I was to call him an icon that I was intimidated by,” said actor Tom Hanks in 2002 after the pair worked together on “The Road to Perdition.”

“But he’s much more than anything you’d expect. He’s much more relaxed, unassuming. He gets it. He understands that the biggest job of being an actor, the hardest thing to do is to really capture 45 seconds of truth on film in the course of a long day.”

Newman won three Oscars in his career, including two honourary trophies and a win for his turn in the pool-shark flick “The Color of Money,” which teamed him with Tom Cruise.

“There is a kind of empathy he has shown throughout his career for this kind of underdog,” said director Robert Benton of Newman in 1994.

“He just feels what they’re going through from the inside, just feels them. He loves the way people just barely get by.”

Newman, who married in 1958, also worked with his wife Joanne Woodward in films such as “Rachel, Rachel.”

Despite Newman’s heartthrob image and his bad boy onscreen persona, the couple’s long marriage was an anomaly in Hollywood.

When asked by Playboy if he was ever tempted to cheat on his wife, Newman replied, “I have steak at home, why go out for hamburger?”

Though Newman got a relatively late start in the acting game, within a few years of his film debut in 1955’s “The Silver Chalice,” the actor was a major force on the big screen.

In 1958, Newman starred alongside Elizabeth Taylor in the celluloid version of Tennessee Williams’ “Cat on a Hot Tin Roof.”

Three years later, Newman was cast as a pool shark in “The Hustler,” which would become one of the actor’s best-loved roles.

In 1967, “Cool Hand Luke” was released to critical and commercial acclaim, with Newman playing a rebellious convict bucking against authority. The character struck a chord with audiences and seized on the era’s anti-establishment mood.

Though other commercial and critical successes followed in the 1970s and 1980s, it wasn’t until Newman reprised his pool hustler role with “The Color of Money” in 1986 that he won his first contemporaneous Oscar.

With his famous blue eyes and handsome features, Newman was the typical Hollywood heartthrob, film critic Richard Crouse told CTV Newsnet on Saturday.

“He really set the template for the modern movie star,” he said, pointing to today’s stars like Brad Pitt and George Clooney who split their time between film work and philanthropy.

Newman also blazed a trail for younger actors by picking tough underdog roles, such as his turn as a convict in “Cool Hand Luke.”

“There’s so many iconic images that are associated with him,” added Crouse, pointing to his buddy roles with Robert Redford in the massive films “Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid” and “The Sting.”

“He went beyond just being an attractive screen stud and became a really interesting actor, who brought something unique to every role he did.”

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