Paul Newman liked to joke about his trademark blue eyes – musing that if they turned brown, his career might be in jeopardy – and was delighted to learn he was on Richard Nixon’s enemies list, his daughter says.
Nell Newman, whose father died a year ago at age 83, added that he considered himself lucky and wanted to give back, leading to his passion for philanthropy.
“He always used to joke if his eyes turned brown, what would happen to his career. He always felt he was just really lucky.”
Despite his Hollywood success, Newman preferred the company of race car mechanics to the Beverly Hills jet set.
He and his family were most comfortable in Westport, the Connecticut town where they fished and roamed the land with their five dogs, including an Irish wolfhound. The family also had six cats and even a pet skunk, Nell Newman said.
Newman relished practical jokes. When a friend took his bottle of gin, he went into the friend’s office with a chain saw and cut his desk in half.
He also saved a document that showed him on President Nixon’s enemies’ list.
“He was tickled pink and framed it,” Nell Newman said.
The Newman’s Own Organics food line has given $250 million to charities. A foundation has carried on the work, including Newman’s Hole in the Wall Gang camps for sick children.
“He liked quiet philanthropy,” Nell Newman said. “(He) didn’t want his name on any buildings.”
The birthday bunch
Actress Angie Dickinson is 78. Singer Cissy Houston is 76. Singer Johnny Mathis is 74. Singer Marilyn McCoo is 66. Actor Barry Williams (“The Brady Bunch”) is 55. Actress Fran Drescher is 52. Country singer Marty Stuart is 51. Actress Crystal Bernard is 48. Actor Eric Stoltz is 48. Country singer Eddie Montgomery (Montgomery Gentry) is 46. Musician Trey Anastasio (Phish) is 45. Actress Monica Bellucci is 45. Actress Jenna Elfman is 38. Actress Lacey Chabert is 27. Actor Kieran Culkin is 27. Rapper T-Pain is 25.
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