Paul Newman was a Hollywood legend. His fierce good looks, his steely gaze, and his bad boy drawl weren’t that hard to come by in a city filled with movie stars. But when you pair those material qualities with his strong commitment to his wife and family, and his faithful philanthropy that helped millions of children and charitable causes around the world, you have the kind of big-hearted soul that is a rarity among celebrities. Most people are familiar with the Newman’s Own brand, but you may not know just how far Newman’s helping hand has reached around the world.
In 1982, Newman and his neighbor A.E. Hotchner founded a line of food products called Newman’s Own. The brand started with a homemade salad dressing that Newman and Hotchner had created and given to friends as gifts. The recipients loved the dressing so much that the two men decided to make their creation a commercial endeavor, and they established a policy that all proceeds from the sale of their products, after taxes, would be donated to charity. Newman ponied up $40,000 of his own money to get the brand off the ground. Since that time, the product line has expanded to include pasta sauce, fruit cocktail juices, iced tea, pretzels, cookies, salsa, and even pet food. As of February 2008, the franchise had donated more than $250 million to various educational and charitable organizations selected by Newman.
One beneficiary of the Newman’s Own profits is the Hole in the Wall Gang Camp, a residential summer camp for seriously ill children. Newman co-founded the camp, located in Ashford, Connecticut, in 1988. The name of the camp comes from his 1969 movie ‘Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid’. In 1995, Newman’s former college fraternity, Phi Kappa Tau, named the camp as their ‘national philanthropy’. The one original camp has extended to become several Hole in the Wall Camps in the United States, France, Ireland, Hungary, Israel, and Italy. The camps serve over 130,000 children each year from more than 40 countries, all free of charge.
Newman’s Own also co-sponsors the PEN/Newman’s Own First Amendment Award, a $25,000 reward that is presented annually to recognize a United States resident who has ‘has fought courageously, despite adversity, to safeguard the First Amendment right to freedom of expression as it applies to the written word’. Newman’s charitable endeavors are not limited to the US, though. In June 1999, he donated $250,000 to Catholic Relief Services to aid refugees in Kosovo.
In June 2007, as part of its $230 million fundraising campaign, Kenyon College announced that Newman and his wife Joanne Woodward had donated $10 million to the school to establish a scholarship fund. Newman and Woodward had been honorary co-chairs of a previous campaign.
In 1999, Newman was one of the founders of the Committee Encouraging Corporate Philanthropy (CECP), a group of corporate chairpersons and CEOs committed to raising the level and quality of corporate philanthropy. CECP has grown to include more than 175 members and leads the business community in developing sustainable and strategic community partnerships through philanthropy. The organization performs extensive benchmarking research, and publishes best practice reports about ways to improve business partnerships through philanthropy.
The complete list of charities that receive assistance from the Newman’s Own profits are mostly undisclosed to the public. But some of them include The New York Times Neediest Cases Fund, the George Washington Carver Community Center, the Safe Water Network, Women of Worth, Stars for Stripes, the Sun Youth Organization, and the Breast Care Center at Singleton Hospital through the Swansea National Health Service Trust.
In 1993, Newman’s daughter, Nell Newman, founded an offshoot of her father’s legacy, called Newman’s Own Organics, which she runs from California. It produces only organic foods, and she donates her proceeds to charity. Upon her father’s death, Nell took the helm of the entire Newman’s Own company. Although some people had feared the company might cease to function, it is expected not only to continue functioning, but also to continue growing under Nell’s steady hand. So not only did Paul Newman leave behind a legacy of good movies and good works, he also left behind an example of good parenting, with his daughter continuing in her father’s footsteps to help the world.