Famous Veteran: Paul Newman

Paul Newman headshot.
Hollywood legend Paul Newman served in the Navy during World War II before embarking on a distinguished acting career and becoming a philanthropist.

"A man with no enemies is a man with no character."

Paul Newman was born in a suburb of Cleveland in 1925. His family owned and operated a small, lucrative sporting goods store that provided a comfortable lifestyle. Newman enjoyed a stable childhood and showed a penchant for acting at a young age. His first appearance on stage was at the age of 7 in his school's version of "Robin Hood."

After Newman graduated from Shaker Heights High School in 1943, he joined the Navy's V-12 program at Yale University in the hopes of becoming a pilot. His hopes were dashed, however, when it was discovered that he was color blind.

Instead of completing the program, Newman was shipped to basic training where he qualified to be a rear-seat radioman and gunner for torpedo bombers. In 1944, Newman was sent to Naval Air Station Barbers Point, Hawaii, where he operated in torpedo bomber squadrons designed to train replacement pilots. He was later stationed on an aircraft carrier as a turret gunner for an Avenger aircraft.

One of Newman's later posts was aboard the USS Bunker Hill, which fought in the Battle of Okinawa in 1945. In a stroke of fate, his pilot developed an ear infection, and they were held back from flying in the Okinawa campaign. Because of this, he and his pilot avoided the destruction of their ship, and the deaths of the sailors aboard.

Newman was discharged in 1946 in Washington. His military honors included the American Area Campaign medal, the Good Conduct medal and the World War II Victory medal.

After he left the military, Newman used the GI Bill to enroll in Kenyon College in Gamier, Ohio, where he engaged in numerous activities like football and acting. He reportedly wasn't very interested in his studies but graduated with a bachelor of arts in drama and another in economics.

Afterward, he wandered through various jobs, including acting in stock companies and running his family store. He eventually attended the Yale School of Drama for one year before moving to New York and studying at The Actors Studio.

Newman's fame came through his acting ventures. He started off in Broadway productions, moved to television and eventually landed his first Hollywood role in "The Silver Chalice" in 1954. He starred in films such as "Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid," "The Towering Inferno" and "Mr. and Mrs. Bridge." His awards for acting included an Academy Award, two Golden Globes and an Emmy Award.

One of Newman's most enduring legacies is the food production company he co-founded: Newman's Own. The company began selling salad dressing, but soon moved on to pasta sauce, iced tea, cookies and many other products.

Newman died in 2008 at age 83 because of lung cancer. He was diagnosed earlier in the year and underwent chemotherapy, but it was too little, too late. He refused to be hospitalized, and his final moments were spent at home while surrounded by friends and family.

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