Full speed ahead on the big screen: Paul Newman

He lived an Oscar-worthy life: today Paul Newman would have turned 97. The story of the man who thrilled women and film critics alike, while also being able to drive a car fast and giving a watch its current nickname.
Text Marko Knab
Photo Moviestills DB

Paul Newman once described his path to the big screen this way: »I wasn't driven to acting by any inner compulsion,« he told Jack Skow for a 1982 TIME cover story, »I was running away from the sporting goods business.« And how he ran: In 1956, as boxing champion Rocky Graziano in »Somebody Up There Likes Me«, he first attracted attention in a big way - only to make cinema history shortly thereafter with »Cat on a Hot Tin Roof« His role as Brick Pollitt would not win him an Oscar at the time, but it was the first of nine nominations at the Academy Awards. It wasn't until 1987 that he would finally win one. He was nominated for Best Actor in a leading role in »The Color of Money,« after winning a lifetime achievement award a year earlier. But his life's work extended far beyond the screen. Away from the film sets, the son of Eastern European immigrants made his mark both philanthropically and on the racetrack.

His perhaps greatest success in this regard: second place in the 24-hour race in Le Mans, which he achieved in 1979 together with Dick Barbour and Rolf Stommelen driving a Porsche 935. Remarkable, because the man with the steel-blue eyes was rejected as a pilot by the Navy - because of his color blindness. Spurred on by a role in the motor sports film »Winning«, Newman was never to let go of motor sports again throughout his life. Even starting out in a small Datsun 510 and only at the age of 48, he had worked his way up the scene over the years - and established himself as a team owner even after his active career. In 2006, he lent his voice to the Hudson Hornet in Disney's animated film »Cars« - also a legend, at least for those familiar with U.S. motorsports.

his style has also always been unchallenged:

Elegant yet minimalist and casual, often crowned with a matching watch

But his style has also always been unchallenged: Elegant yet minimalist and casual, often crowned with a matching watch. So it is no coincidence that it was he who made the Rolex Daytona even more famous in the aforementioned movie »Winning«. Today, Rolex watches of the Daytona series and with the additional name »Paul Newman« are considered particularly coveted - and in the meantime his own model also held the record for the most expensive watch in the world. Which is ironic - because Newman was not a person who chased records and numbers - he lived them. After an unparalleled career - he won three Oscars, one of them for social commitment - Newman declared his retirement from the public eye in May 2007 for health reasons.

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