About Paul Newman
Before 1982, Paul Newman was celebrated for his blue eyes, handsome good looks, and a body of work rivaling that of any leading man, including such classics as Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid, The Hustler, and The Color of Money, for which he won an Academy Award.
But then the public discovered another talent: Newman had a way with salad dressing. His oil-and-vinegar that he once presented as gifts to friends would become the first in Newman’s Own sensationally profitable product line. Newman’s Own donates all profits after taxes to educational and charitable funds—adding up to a grand total of more than $150 million since the company’s start. As Newman himself has said, “From salad dressing, all blessings flow.”
In 1986, Paul Newman founded the Hole in the Wall Gang Camp with Ursula Gwynne and A.E. Hotchner. These free-of-charge camps offer fun and magical experiences to young people living with cancer and other life-threatening blood illnesses, giving them the opportunity to leave the sterile hospital environment behind and to be in the company of other kids facing the same issues.
Newman’s longstanding marriage to the Oscar-winning actress Joanne Woodward, an exception to the Hollywood rule, has only made him more of a role model and quiet leader. He credits luck for his long and stunning list of successes in life, but it is the choices he’s made with the hand he was dealt that distinguishes him as one of the best of humanity.
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On a messy winter day in 1931, in the middle of the Great Depression, my father, Arthur Newman--looking as gray as the day itself--left house and family and headed for Chicago to try and negotiate with Spalding and Wilson, the two giant sporting goods manufacturers, to get sports equipment on consignment. My father and his brother owned The Newman-Stern Company of Cleveland, Ohio, purveyor of sports equipment since 1915, a surviving company in the “luxury” arena of retailing which would see 80 percent failure rate before the depression ended. Goods on consignment would be difficult to bargain for in good times, so it seemed almost impossible to expect success in bad, because the manufacturers would only be paid as the goods were sold and not upon
delivery. A dicey deal to monitor. Money was scarce.
My father came home two days later with a letter of agreement from both manufacturers for $100,000 of goods on consignment, a staggering amount in those days, especially under the economic circumstances. But those manufacturers knew that if The Newman-Stern Company sold a baseball glove for nine dollars and ninety-five cents, the manufacturer would have a check in the mail from my father the next day for the five dollars owed them. Such was the reputation of the Newman-Stern Company and the gentlemen who ran it. The business survived and so did we.
I learned a great deal by my father’s example and have tried to measure up. I learned from him that honesty is the best medicine. It nourishes the soul, and at the same time, keeps meat and potatoes on the table.