Paul Newman

Grade Level: 
6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12
Social Capital
Social Enterprise
Paul Newman (1925 - ) is a well-known film and theatre actor. He and friend A.E. Hotchner began a company to sell Newman's Own Salad Dressing. Now Newman's Own sells a whole line of products. The company has given away nearly $150 million with a remarkable policy of donating 100% of its proceeds to charity. These donations helped to found and support camps, belonging to the Association of Hole in the Wall Camps, for children suffering from illnesses throughout the U.S. and Europe. Newman also founded the Committee to Encourage Corporate Philanthropy.


Biographical Highlights

Paul Newman (1925 - 2008) was a man as well-known for his acting career as his philanthropic endeavors. He was an actor respected and renowned by critics and audiences alike. The major awards and accolades for his work and contributions to the arts include an honorary Academy Award, a Best Actor Academy Award for The Color of Money, and a Kennedy Center Honor recipient.

His career path led him to earn numerous acting honors and the highly coveted ability to pick and choose his roles. His passion for racing cars was well known and was initially ignited through research for his role in the movie Winning. Many of his hobbies are publicized due to his name recognition and general public interest. This interest also created visibility of his philanthropic activity, and the entrepreneurial accomplishments of his food product company, Newman's Own.

His philanthropic endeavors are comprised of personal interests and issues confronting society, at-large. Newman has a particular interest in providing opportunities for children suffering from debilitating illnesses and does so through a series of camps throughout the United States and Europe. Newman has also led the way in corporate philanthropy with the company Newman's Own and its remarkable policy of donating 100% of the proceeds to charitable organizations.


Historic Roots

Paul Leonard Newman was born in a suburb of Cleveland, Ohio, on 26 January 1925. His parents, Arthur S. and Theresa Feutzer Newman, raised their family (including second son Paul) in a home in Shaker Heights. Arthur Newman co-owned a successful sporting goods store with his brother, Joe Newman. Paul was expected to take over the family business with his older brother, Arthur Jr., when their father and uncle retired. Newman, however, was not interested in remaining in Shaker Heights and building his life there. His ambitions took him in another direction (Quirk 1996, 6).

Paul Newman enlisted in the Navy upon his high school graduation in 1943. Unfortunately, his goal of becoming a pilot was thwarted due to the discovery that he was colorblind. His time as a radioman in the Navy came to an end in 1946. Newman enrolled at Kenyon College in Ohio to seek a degree in economics. This interest eventually gave way to his pursuit of the dramatic arts. His participation in college productions sparked a love for live theatre and the production process. During his final college years, he met and married Jackie Witte. Together, they made a living as stock character actors in a small theatre group until Paul's father, Arthur, became ill. The couple returned to Shaker Heights to spend time with him. Upon Arthur's death, it was determined that Paul and Art Jr. would take over the business. Newman was dissatisfied with this work, although he was good at it. He found motivation for remaining in the family business with the birth of his son, Scott, in 1950.

Eventually, the desire to pursue acting won over the stability of Shaker Heights. Paul Newman moved his family to Connecticut where he attended classes to earn a master's degree from Yale University's School of Drama. This led him to audition and act in several small television roles and Broadway plays. His aspiration to become a better actor led him to the Actor's Studio in New York City. This organization provided mentoring opportunities from other actors with a wealth of experience including Marlon Brando and James Dean. "Studying at the Actor's Studio not only honed Newman's acting style, but also helped him define exactly how he worked" (Ibid., 31). It was at this time that Newman developed his technique as a Method actor.

During Newman's stay in New York, he and Jackie had two more children, Susan and Stephanie. As Newman's acting career took him in the direction of Broadway plays and feature films, his marriage began to disintegrate. He spent a great deal of time on film location and, thus, his relationship with his family grew strained. Ultimately, Newman and Jackie divorced and his ongoing relationship with Joanne Woodward became public with their marriage in 1958. The length of his second marriage to fellow actor, Woodward, has been touted as a rarity among acting elite. Their relationship has produced daughters Nell, Melissa, and Claire (called "Clea"; Ibid., 253).

One of Newman's first forays into philanthropic activity includes the development of the Scott Newman Foundation (later known as the Scott Newman Center). Paul Newman's only son died from a drug and alcohol overdose in 1978. Newman helped start the Scott Newman Foundation to provide a means for people to become aware of the dangerous problems associated with drug and alcohol abuse. The original focus of the foundation included funding films and public service announcements concerning drug abuse (Scott Newman Center). More recently, the Center developed a camp, The Rowdy Ridge Gang, for children and families affected by drug and alcohol abuse. This camp eventually grew to include children and families affected by the problem of domestic violence.

The name Paul Newman is synonymous with film legend, a status partly due to a film and stage career spanning nearly six decades. Yet, Newman's success was not immediately apparent with the release of his first feature film, The Silver Chalice , in 1954. This period piece was a disappointment for Newman, who expected his first film to perform better at the box office (Ibid., 49). He persevered, and throughout his career has been nominated for an Academy Award nine times, eight of those in the Best Actor category. He was given an honorary Academy Award in 1985 for lifetime contributions and then won a Best Actor award for his performance in The Color of Money in 1986. Several of Newman's commercially successful films include Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid (1969), The Sting (1973), and Slap Shot (1977).

His movie career often exposed Newman to new experiences and ideas. One such experience that eventually became a lifelong hobby was race car driving. Winning called for Newman to portray a racecar driver. The training required to authenticate the role turned into a passion for him. Newman is now the co-owner of a CART Championship car team and he still frequently competes in races. Several of the organizations and companies in which he is involved gain public exposure through sponsorship opportunities with the racing team.

Throughout his years, Newman was also known for a willingness to voice his political opinions. He publicly campaigned for Democratic candidates and volunteered for several speaking engagements on behalf of the candidates. He was once the Connecticut delegate to the Democratic National Convention and also part of the U.S. Delegation to the U.N. conference on disarmament.

His most well-known philanthropic venture is a collaborative effort between himself and a good friend A.E. Hotchner. "He and buddy A.E. Hotchner started a business they would come to call a multi-million dollar joke" (Oumano 1989, 37). These two men conceived the idea to launch a business using the homemade salad dressing that the Newmans originally gave out as holiday gifts. The company was named Newman's Own and the proceeds of sales after taxes were given to educational and charitable organizations.

The combination of popular name recognition with Newman and a good product allowed the company to donate close to $1 million in its first year of operation. Newman himself recognized the value of his endorsement with the motto of the company reading "shameless exploitation in pursuit of the common good" (Newman's Own). To date, the company has given away approximately $150 million (Ibid.). The original product, Newman's Own Salad Dressing, has grown into a whole product line of dressings, salsa, popcorn, steak sauce, pasta sauce, fruit cocktail juice, and lemonade. Each of the products is made with all natural ingredients, according to the Newman's Own Web site. Newman's Own also partners with a number of companies to further market its' products. Recently, McDonald's fast food chain and Newman's Own entered into a partnership. Newman's Own salad dressing will be packaged and used for the new salad product line McDonald's is introducing into its franchise.

The success he has had with Newman's Own and his interest in corporate philanthropy has led Paul Newman to help found and continue to co-chair the Committee to Encourage Corporate Philanthropy. This organization defines corporate philanthropy as "a key component of a corporation's broader social responsibility and includes cash gifts, product donations, and employee volunteerism. It serves as a major link between the corporation and its communities" (CECP). This committee provides tools for corporations to gauge their giving ability and previous practices, gives internships for upcoming leaders, and awards companies with exceptional practices.

Paul Newman was involved in many charitable organizations through board membership and continuous financial support. 



Paul Newman's contributions to society were substantial, both in the arts and in philanthropy. As a popular and accomplished actor, Newman achieved critical success on both stage and screen. It is with this same commitment, and the public's instant recognition of him, that he brought success and a new level of attention to the arena of corporate giving. In addition to his leadership by example, these are key factors in his importance to the evolution of philanthropy in society.

Newman has added new meaning to the term corporate philanthropy. Newman's Own does not donate a portion of its proceeds to charitable causes; it donates all of its proceeds. This fantastic contribution has allowed for start-up capital for several camps serving children with terminal or debilitating illnesses. This example sets a new pinnacle for other philanthropic corporations to strive toward in their own endeavors.

Additionally, other major contributions include the Scott Newman Foundation (now the Scott Newman Center), founded in 1980, which develops "innovative, research-based drug prevention materials and projects which target families, schools, and communities" (Scott Newman Center). Newman is also a co-chair of the Committee to Encourage Corporate Philanthropy, a nonprofit organization that "serves dual advocacy and facilitative roles in the cause of expanded strategic philanthropy" (CECP).


Ties to the Philanthropic Sector

Paul Newman has numerous ties to the philanthropic sector. The most well known is through Newman's Own, all of the proceeds from this company go to charitable organizations of his choice. He is further involved through his active participation on the boards of directors of the "Hole in the Wall Gang" camps (which were initiated and are funded by Newman's Own contributions). The Scott Newman Center, also founded by Newman, works to prevent substance abuse through education. The center produces short films and other materials to educate the public on the dangers of drug abuse. It also runs a camp for children and families whose lives have been affected by drug or alcohol abuse or domestic violence.

Newman's public involvement with the Committee to Encourage Corporate Philanthropy is a testament to his dedication in the sector. He seeks out partnerships with other philanthropists, as well as companies to further provide services through Newman's Own. These partnerships also encourage philanthropic activity in the companies that partner with Newman's Own.


Key Related Ideas

  • Advocacy : The act or process of supporting a cause.
  • Altruism : Unselfish regard for or devotion to the welfare of others.
  • Common good : That which is in the best interest (or welfare) of the larger community.
  • Corporate philanthropy : Giving by for-profit organizations that acknowledges a broader social responsibility and includes financial gifts, product donations, and employee volunteerism (based on the definition by the CECP).
  • Entrepreneurial philanthropy : Philanthropy involving donors with a more proactive stance on where their gifts will go and how they will be used. It usually refers to donors who provide the money themselves specifically for community activities or agencies.
  • Method acting : Performing in which actors or actresses choose to utilize their own personal experiences, emotions, or memories to determine how a character might speak or move.

Important People Related to the Topic

  • E. Hotchner : Business partner for Newman's Own food products and Newman's fellow philanthropist.
  • Peter Malkin : Lawyer and New York real estate magnate and co-founder of the Committee to Encourage Corporate Philanthropy.
  • John C. Whitehead : Former Goldman, Sachs & Company co-chair and co-founder of the Committee to Encourage Corporate Philanthropy.


Related Nonprofit Organizations

Actor's Studio : A theatrical school and working group founded in 1947 by Elia Kazan, Cheryl Crawford, and Robert Lewis. The studio is known for refining and teaching Method Acting. Newman belonged to the Actor's Studio and is considered a Method actor.

Association of Hole in the Wall Camps : Paul Newman has helped to create several nonprofit organizations including camps and research facilities. The camps are all found under the umbrella name of this association ("Hole in the Wall" is a movie reference to Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid ). The names of the camps include the Boggy Creek Gang, the "Double H" Hole in the Woods Camp, the Barretstown Gang, the Painted Turtle Camp and L'Envol. The newest edition to the camp family is Victory Junction, currently under construction and opening for use in the next few years.

Committee to Encourage Corporate Philanthropy : A nonprofit that "serves dual advocacy and facilitative roles in the cause of expanded strategic philanthropy" (CECP). It provides tools for corporations to gauge their giving ability and previous practices, gives internships for upcoming leaders, and awards companies with exceptional practices. The organization provides Newman a vehicle for continued leadership in corporate philanthropy. He serves as a co-chair of the committee.

The Scott Newman Center : The foundation was originally started by Paul Newman and his family in 1980 in response to the untimely death of his son due to substance abuse. The center focuses on education and family support. It produces short films and other materials to educate the public on the dangers of drug abuse. It also runs a camp, The Rowdy Ridge Gang, for children and families whose lives have been affected by drug or alcohol abuse or domestic violence.


Bibliography and Internet Sources

  • n.a. "Paul Newman," Biography 7 (August 2000): 8, 76.
  • Committee to Encourage Corporate Philanthropy (CECP). "About the Committee." CECP.
  • Godfrey, Lionel. Paul Newman, Superstar: A Critical Biography . New York: St. Martin'sPress, 1978.
  • Hamblett, Charles. Paul Newman . Chicago: Henry Regnery Company, 1975.
  • Lax, Eric. Paul Newman, a Biography . Atlanta: Turner Publishing, 1996.
  • Morella, Joe, and Edward Z. Epstein. Paul and Joanne . New York: Bantam, 1995.
  • Newman's Own. "The Legend of Newman's Own." Newman's Own.
  • Oumano, Elena. Paul Newman . New York: St. Martin's Press, 1989. ISBN: 0312026277.
  • Paul Newman, Hollywood's Charming Rebel. Produced by Kevin Burns and directed by David R. Axelrod. Produced by Van Ness Films Inc. in association with Foxstar Productions, Twentieth Television Inc., and A & E Network. 50 min. A & E Home Video, 1995. Videocassette.
  • Quirk, Lawrence J. The Films of Paul Newman . Secaucus, New Jersey: Citadel Press, 1971.
  • Quirk, Lawrence J. Paul Newman . Dallas: Taylor Publishing Company, 1996. ISBN: 0878339620.
  • Scott Newman Center. "About Scott Newman Center . " Scott Newman Center. .


This paper was developed by a student taking a Philanthropic Studies course taught at the Center on Philanthropy at Indiana University. It is offered by Learning To Give and the Center on Philanthropy at Indiana University.