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Paul Newman

by Susannah Abbey

"From salad dressing all blessings flow."
Paul Newman, Future Entrepreneur.

1982 was the year actor Paul Newman turned his hobby--making salad dressing and putting it in old wine bottles to give out to friends--into a business. This "joke" business has since become an unexpectedly large and successful industry which benefits many charities. In a 1998 interview, Newman estimated that his food business had earned about ninety million dollars for various causes.

The recipients of this beneficence are, for the most part, children. With his wife, Joanne Woodward, Newman has founded summer camps around the world that take in children ill with cancer and serious blood diseases and give them a chance to enjoy their childhood and try activities that their lives normally would not permit.

Another of Newman's favorite causes is land conservation. In 1998 he and Woodward donated half a million dollars to the Trust for Public Land, in order to save the Trout Brook Valley from development.

Newman with business and cookbook collaborator A.E. Hotchner.

Born in 1925, Newman avoided life as a sporting-goods retailer by dabbling, then plunging into acting. He appeared on stage, television and finally cinema in the 1950s, in such classics as "Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid," "The Hustler," and "The Sting." In 1968 he directed the movie "Rachel, Rachel," which starred his future wife, Joanne Woodward.

The fact that this famous face appeared on the bottles of salad dressing and spaghetti sauce helped market the "Newman's Own" brand that has now become the financial resource for his philanthropic efforts. But the true point of departure is the actor's ironic sensibility and sense of humor. Newman has said that he thought the idea of putting his image on the products a "joke," and that what appealed to him was the idea of using his own face and fame--what he calls "circular exploitation"--in order to eventually achieve some good for others.

Paul Newman will be greatly missed. (January 26, 1925 – September 26, 2008)

Page created on 1/22/2015 5:11:58 PM

Last edited 1/4/2017 10:36:26 PM

Related Links

Newman's Own Web site - "Shameless exploitation in pursuit of the common good."
The Trust for Public Land - An organization that buys land for the expressed purpose of preserving it.
Read about the Newman's Own Cookbook - From the Global Gourmet Web site
The Hole in the Wall Gang Camp - Children with cancer and serious blood diseases find camaraderie, joy and a renewed sense of being a kid at this wonderful camp

Extra Info

Hole in the Wall Camps
265 Church Street
New Haven, CT 06510
203-562-1203

Paul Newman contributed his hero story to MY HERO: Extraordinary People on the Heroes Who Inspire Them. Your purchase of this book helps to support this not for profit educational web project.

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Author Info

Paul Newman has used his fame as an actor to build a business that makes good food products. The heroic part is that the profits from Newman's Own are given to non-profit organizations. The Hole-in-the-Wall Gang camp for children with cancer provides a no-cost camp experience for kids and their siblings. Mr. Newman's business has gone beyond an individual's hobby and has included the next generation in the business of philanthropy. I admire Paul Newman for being the kind of person who doesn't just write a check to make a difference in the world.