The icon’s path to re­demp­tion af­ter the day that changed his life for­ever.

Closer Weekly - - News - By BRUCE FRETTS

When life gave Paul New­man lemons, he lit­er­ally made lemon­ade. Once, at the Hole in the Wall Gang Camp for se­ri­ously ill chil­dren he founded near his Con­necti­cut home, “There was one lit­tle kid look­ing at Dad, then look­ing at the car­tons of New­man’s Own lemon­ade,” Paul’s daugh­ter Clea re­calls laugh­ingly of one of the myr­iad prod­ucts em­bla­zoned with her fa­ther’s face and sold for char­ity. “The boy said, ‘Are you miss­ing?’ Dad was baf­fled, then he fi­nally saw the car­ton and tried to ex­plain. It was very funny.”

Yet it was the tragedy of a lost child that in­spired the leg­endary movie star’s midlife de­ci­sion to ded­i­cate him­self to phi­lan­thropy and fam­ily, rather than fame and for­tune, which were not ful­fill­ing him. On Nov. 20, 1978, Scott New­man — Paul’s old­est of six kids and only son — died of an ac­ci­den­tal over­dose of drugs and al­co­hol. He was 28. “I think about him of­ten…it hurts,” Paul later told his best friend, writer A.E. Hotch­ner. “The guilt… all I could have done…and didn’t do.” Dev­as­tated by grief, he de­voted his life to help­ing oth­ers, start­ing the Scott New­man Cen­ter for Drug Abuse Preven­tion, which led to Paul’s vast char­i­ta­ble em­pire. “He learned from painful things that hap­pened in

his life, [like] los­ing a son,” says Sally Field, his co-star in 1981’s Ab­sence of Mal­ice. “It made him one of the most im­por­tant peo­ple I’ve ever known.”

Paul had a strained re­la­tion­ship with his own fa­ther, Arthur, a Shaker Heights, Ohio, sport­ing goods store owner who dis­ap­proved of his son’s de­ci­sion to forgo the fam­ily busi­ness in fa­vor of act­ing. Sadly, Arthur died in 1950, be­fore Paul found fame. “I al­ways thought it was so sad that his dad never got a chance to see him be what he could be,” Jay Leno, a friend and fel­low auto en­thu­si­ast, tells Closer. With­out a healthy fa­ther-son bond as a model, Paul wasn’t able to forge a last­ing con­nec­tion with — or ul­ti­mately save — his own son. Those demons stayed with him for­ever.

At 24, Paul had mar­ried ac­tress Jackie Witte, and a year lat- er, Scott was born. He was a tem­per­a­men­tal child; Paul nick­named him “Mad Scott” for his tantrums when he was 2. Jackie lost in­ter­est in act­ing and de­voted her­self to rais­ing Scott and his sis­ters, Stephanie and Su­san, while Paul sin­gle-mind­edly pur­sued his ca­reer. He also had less hon­or­able pur­suits. Af­ter the box­ing biopic Some­body Up There Likes Me made him a star in 1956, he got drunk, drove over a fire hy­drant and led cops on a mile-long chase be­fore be­ing ar­rested. “I drank whiskey a lot,” he said. “For a while, it re­ally screwed me up.”

When Paul left Jackie to wed Joanne Wood­ward, his lead­ing lady in The Long, Hot Sum­mer, 8-year-old Scott didn’t like his new step­mom or his sud­den lack of ac­cess to his fa­ther. “Be­ing the son of Paul New­man at the height of his fame was a ter­ri­ble bur­den to carry,” Hotch­ner, 96, tells Closer. As Joanne ex­plained, “When the kids go any­where with him, they can be pushed aside by fans, as if they don’t count, as if they’re noth­ing in them­selves.”

Hurt and an­gry, Scott be­gan dab­bling with drugs and al­co­hol as a teenager and was also ex­pelled from sev­eral schools. Paul stayed mum, feel­ing he couldn’t lec­ture his son on sub­stance abuse, since he, too, of­ten overindulg­ed. Af­ter Scott was ar­rested for drunk­enly van­dal­iz­ing a school bus and kick­ing a cop in the head, Paul qui­etly paid his $1,000 fine.

“I’m not tak­ing any act­ing help from my fa­ther. I want my work to stand on its own merit.” — Scott, with Paul’s pal Robert Red­ford in

1975’s The Great Waldo Pep­per


The sit­u­a­tion wors­ened when Scott tried to fol­low in his fa­ther’s path as an ac­tor and found him­self stuck in his dad’s shadow. “It’s hell be­ing his son, you know,” Scott told Hotch­ner. “I don’t have his blue eyes. I don’t have his tal­ent. I don’t have his luck. I don’t have any­thing.”

For a while, he did have a girl­friend, ac­tress Sally Kirkland, who tried to get him off of drugs and into yoga, to no avail. “Scott told me how tough it was be­ing Paul’s son be­cause he could never live up to him,” Sally shares with Closer. “Paul loved him to death, but Scott was al­ways very in­se­cure.”

In the mid-’70s, Paul helped Scott land a small role as a fire­man in his hit dis­as­ter movie The Tow­er­ing In­ferno, and op­po­site his friend Robert Red­ford in The Great Waldo Pep­per. But he didn’t lend his son money, given his be­lief that all peo­ple, in­clud­ing celebs’ kids, should make their

own way in life. Said Scott, “Every­one as­sumes I have tremen­dous funds, but I haven’t got a cent.”


Scott de­vel­oped a se­ri­ous drug ad­dic­tion in his 20s, and

Paul hired the best doc­tors to treat him. But fol­low­ing a mo­tor­cy­cle in­jury, Scott was pre­scribed painkiller­s by one physi­cian, and he mixed the pills with rum, Val­ium and co­caine. It proved a toxic cock­tail. He died in his sleep at a Los An­ge­les Ra­mada Inn.

Paul was shocked, but not sur­prised. Still it was the day that changed his life for­ever and set him on a course where fame and for­tune were not his pri­mary goals. “In a way, I’d been wait­ing for that call for 10 years,” Paul rue­fully ad­mit­ted. “Scott and I had sim­ply lost the abil­ity to help each other.”

But Paul re­al­ized he had the ca­pac­ity to help oth­ers learn from Scott’s tragic loss. “This may sound corny, but we didn’t want Scott to have lived in vain,” Joanne said. “His life didn’t seem to have much point, and we wanted to make it have one now.”

Founded with a $1 mil­lion do­na­tion from Paul, the Scott New­man Cen­ter opened in 1980. “The big­gest prob­lem is when the sub­ject [of drugs] is swept un­der the car­pet,” Paul said. “You have to keep the lines of com­mu­ni­ca­tion open.”

Paul did just that with Clea, Nell and Melissa — his three daugh­ters with Joanne — as well as Scott’s sis­ters, Stephanie and Su­san. “He more than made up for the years when he didn’t have time” for his kids be­cause he was fo­cused on his ca­reer, Hotch­ner says. Re­mem­bers Clea, 51, “He had a crazy sense of hu­mor — it was child­like but very funny. And he was a very thought­ful per­son. The best ad­vice he ever gave me was that I needed to find my own way.”

He also en­cour­aged his chil­dren to carry on his phil­an­thropic legacy. Ev­ery year, he gifted them a sum and in­structed them to do­nate it to a char­ity of their choice. “He gave each of us $25,000 to pick causes we feel pas­sion­ate about,” re­veals Clea. “It was a great les­son.” All five of his daugh­ters do char­ity work to this day.

Mostly, Paul taught by ex­am­ple. “One of my fa­vorite mem­o­ries of my dad was walk­ing around the Hole in the Wall Gang Camp with him and get­ting the feel­ing he got when he played with the kids,” Clea tells Closer. “He re­ally loved it. It re­ally fed him.”

Even af­ter his death from lung can­cer at 83 in 2008, Paul con­tin­ues to feed peo­ple through New­man’s Own, which has raised more than $430 mil­lion for char­ity. When asked about Paul’s great­est ac­com­plish­ment, his brother Arthur, 92, de­murs: “He was a man of many achieve­ments.” But as Clea points out, “For my fa­ther, act­ing and mak­ing movies was a ca­reer, but phi­lan­thropy was his life’s work.”

— Re­port­ing by Amanda


Paul played Fast Ed­die Fel­son in ’61’s The Hustler and won an Os­car for the 1986 se­quel The Color of Money. His chem­istry with Robert Red­ford fueled 1969’s Butch Cas­sidy and the Sun­dance Kid as well as the 1973 hit The Sting. Af­ter Scott’s death, Paul...

Paul and Scott (at an On­tario, Calif., race in 1972) shared a love of fast cars. “When they were grow­ing up, I wasn’t there much,” said Paul, with Joanne and daugh­ters (clock­wise from left) Clea, Nell, Melissa and Stephanie in 1973.

New­man’s Own was founded in 1982 with salad dress­ing. As a driver, Paul won two pro races and placed sec­ond at the 24 Hours of Le Mans. Paul started the Hole in the Wall Gang Camp for sick kids in 1988.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from USA

© PressReader. All rights reserved.