LOS ANGELES // Paul Newman, known for his piercing blue eyes, boyish good looks and stellar performances in scores of hit Hollywood movies, has died, his foundation said today. He was 83. Mr Newman, who had been battling cancer, passed away on Friday, Newman's Own Foundation said in a statement from Westport, Connecticut. "Paul Newman's craft was acting. His passion was racing. His love was his family and friends. And his heart and soul were dedicated to helping make the world a better place for all," Robert Forrester, the foundation's vice chairman, said. Mr Newman played youthful rebels, charming rogues, golden-hearted drunks and amoral opportunists in a career that encompassed more than 50 movies. He was one of the most popular and consistently bankable Hollywood stars in the second half of the 20th century. Two of his most popular movies included Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid (1969) and The Sting (1973), in which he co-starred with an equally popular and handsome actor, Robert Redford. Mr Newman was also a philanthropist, a health food mogul - he once quipped that his salad dressing was making more money than his movies - a race car enthusiast and a leftist political activist. Many, however, will remember him for his good looks: in 1990 People magazine chose him as one of its 50 most beautiful people in the world, and in 1995 Britain's Empire magazine picked him as one of the 100 sexiest stars in film history. Mr Newman won the Academy Award for Best Actor in 1987, late in his career, for his role as a pool shark named 'Fast Eddie' in The Color of Money, co-starring with Tom Cruise. Many critics at the time said he was really being awarded the Oscar belatedly for his original performance of the same smarmy character in the 1961 movie The Hustler. Born Paul Leonard Newman on Jan 26 1925 in Shaker Heights, Ohio, into a well-off middle class family - his father ran a successful sporting goods chain - Mr Newman acted in school plays as a youth. He joined the navy in the Second World War wanting to be a pilot, but tests showed that he was colour-blind. Instead he served as a rear-seat radio man and tail gunner aboard Avenger torpedo bombers in the Pacific theatre. After the war Mr Newman went to university, enrolled in the Yale drama school, and moved to New York where he acted in plays. That job eventually landed him roles in television, and later in movies.
Mr Newman's film career almost ended with his first movie - he considered his performance in the sword-and-sandal 1954 drama The Chalice so mediocre he paid for a page-size ad in a Hollywood trade publication to apologise. Mr Newman redeemed himself in his next movie, Somebody Up There Likes Me (1956), a portrayal of boxer Rocky Graziano, and by 1958 was nominated for an Oscar as an alcoholic ex-football player in Cat on a Hot Tin Roof, starring alongside Elizabeth Taylor. Hit movies rolled on from there, including Exodus (1960), The Hustler (1961), Hud (1963), Cool Hand Luke (1967), The Towering Inferno (1974) and Slap Shot (1977). * AFP