Yet despite enormous success in both endeavors and a vile distaste for celebrity, the Oscar-winning actor never lost the aura of a towering Hollywood movie star, turning in roles later in life that carried all the blue-eyed, heartthrob cool of his anti-hero performances in Hud , Cool Hand Luke and Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid .
The 10-time Academy Award nominee died Friday at age 83, surrounded by family and close friends at his Westport farmhouse after a long battle with cancer, publicist Jeff Sanderson said Saturday.
In May, Mr. Newman dropped plans to direct a fall production of Of Mice and Men at Connecticut's Westport Country Playhouse, citing unspecified health issues. The next month, a friend disclosed that the Ohio native was being treated for cancer.
But true to his fiercely private nature, Mr. Newman remained cagey about his condition, reacting to reports that he had lung cancer with a statement saying only that he was "doing nicely."
As an actor, Mr. Newman got his start in theater and on television during the 1950s and went on to become a legend held in awe by his peers. He won one Oscar and took home two honorary ones, and had major roles in more than 50 films.
"There is a point where feelings go beyond words," Butch Cassidy and The Sting co-star Robert Redford said Saturday. "I have lost a real friend. My life -- and this country -- is better for his being in it."
Mr. Newman sometimes teamed with his wife and fellow Oscar winner, Joanne Woodward, with whom he had one of Hollywood's rare long-term marriages.
"I have steak at home, why go out for hamburger?" he told Playboy magazine when asked whether he was tempted to stray.
They wed in 1958, around the same time they both appeared in The Long Hot Summer . Mr. Newman also directed her in several films, including Rachel, Rachel and The Glass Menagerie .
Mr. Newman was just as likely to play against his looks, becoming a favorite with critics for his convincing portrayals of rebels, tough guys and losers. New York Times critic Caryn James wrote after his turn as the town curmudgeon in 1995's Nobody's Fool that "you never stop to wonder how a guy as good-looking as Paul Newman ended up this way."
Mr. Newman had a soft spot for underdogs in real life, giving tens of millions to charities through his food company and setting up camps for severely ill children. Passionately opposed to the Vietnam War, and in favor of civil rights, he was so famously liberal that he ended up on President Nixon's "enemies list," one of the actor's proudest achievements, he liked to say.
He and Ms. Woodward bought an 18th century farmhouse in Westport, where they raised their three daughters, Elinor, Melissa and Clea. Mr. Newman had two daughters, Susan and Stephanie, and a son, Scott, from a previous marriage.
In December 1994, he told Newsweek magazine he had changed little with age.
"I'm not mellower, I'm not less angry, I'm not less self-critical, I'm not less tenacious," he said. "Maybe the best part is that your liver can't handle those beers at noon anymore."
The Silver Chalice, 1954
Somebody Up There Likes Me, 1956
The Rack, 1956
The Helen Morgan Story, 1957
Until They Sail, 1957
The Long Hot Summer, 1958
The Left-Handed Gun, 1958
Cat on a Hot Tin Roof, 1958
Rally 'Round the Flag, Boys! 1958
The Young Philadelphians, 1959
From the Terrace, 1960
The Hustler, 1961
Paris Blues, 1961
Sweet Bird of Youth, 1962
Hemingway's Adventures of a Young Man, 1962
A New Kind of Love, 1963
The Prize, 1963
What a Way to Go, 1964
The Outrage, 1964
Lady L, 1965
Torn Curtain, 1966
Cool Hand Luke, 1967
The Secret War of Harry Frigg, 1968
Rachel Rachel, (director) 1968
Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid, 1969
Sometimes a Great Notion, 1971
Pocket Money, 1972
The Effect of Gamma Rays on Man-in-the-Moon Marigolds (director), 1972
The Life and Times of Judge Roy Bean, 1972
The Mackintosh Man, 1973
The Sting, 1973
The Towering Inferno, 1974
The Drowning Pool, 1975
Silent Movie, (cameo), 1976
Buffalo Bill and the Indians ... or Sitting Bull's History Lesson, 1976
Slap Shot, 1977
When Time Ran Out, 1980
Fort Apache The Bronx, 1981
Absence of Malice, 1981
The Verdict, 1982
Harry and Son, 1984
The Color of Money, 1986
Fat Man and Little Boy, 1989
Mr. & Mrs. Bridge, 1990
The Hudsucker Proxy, 1994
Nobody's Fool, 1994
Message in a Bottle, 1999
Where the Money Is, 2000
Road to Perdition, 2002
Our Town, 2003
Empire Falls, 2005
Cars (voice), 2006