In the late '70s, bored with acting, Newman fell into a slump that paved the way for what has been called one of the most successful career transitions in movie history.
"If he would have started earlier, he would have been just as successful as his acting, no question," Andretti said. When Newman formed his own team, Newman-Haas Racing, Andretti raced for him for 12 years.
Reinvigorated, Newman returned to acting, exploring character roles with new and unexpected depth. Critic Pauline Kael called Newman's portrayal of a washed-up ice hockey coach in "Slap Shot," a 1977 comedy, "casual American star-acting at its peak." In the 1980s, he became active again in the Actors Studio in New York, contributing funds and serving as president of the board.
In 1981, Newman was nominated for an Oscar for his role in "Absence of Malice," as a businessman libeled by Sally Field's gung-ho young reporter, whose story leads to his friend's suicide.
Another nomination followed for his portrayal of an alcoholic lawyer redeemed by his pursuit of justice in 1982's "The Verdict."
When Newman finally won an Oscar in 1986 for "The Color of Money," it was neither his nor director Scorsese's best effort and was seen by some observers as compensation for having been overlooked in "The Hustler."
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Wanting to avoid another public defeat, Newman stayed home for the ceremony. Later, he said of the win: "It's like chasing a beautiful woman for 80 years. She finally relents and you say, 'I'm terribly sorry, I'm tired.' "
His real-life role as a philanthropist began just before Christmas 1980 when he and his friend A.E. Hotchner made a batch of salad dressing in a bathtub to bottle for friends.
Newman was as much a perfectionist about his cooking as his art, friends said. "He knew the exact amount of fat that goes into the perfect hamburger," Stern said. "In his salads, he sliced the celery the exact width."
In restaurants, Newman was known to ask for olive oil, vinegar, chopped celery, salt, pepper and mustard to make his own dressing. On one occasion, when waiters at Chasen's in Beverly Hills wouldn't comply, he took the salad into the men's room and washed the dressing off. "They brought the stuff he wanted, and he made the dressing," Stern said.
Newman told reporters he never imagined the dressing would be sold nationally, but after the Christmas leftovers were given to gourmet shops, the lark became a challenge.
When it became clear the dressing could make a profit, especially with his face on the label, Newman decided to give back some of what luck and the world had given him.
"It was a spur-of-the-moment thing -- 'Let's just do this and give it all away,' " his daughter Nell told the New York Times in 1998.
Newman and Hotchner wrote witty labels to go with the company's motto: "Shameless exploitation in pursuit of the common good," which later became the name of their book that describes their adventures in business.
The company grew to produce many products, including popcorn, salsas, pasta sauces, marinades and Woodward's "Old Fashioned Roadside Virgin Lemonade."
In 2006, he opened Dressing Room: A Homegrown Restaurant to benefit the Westport Country Playhouse, one of Newman and Woodward's favorite projects.
As a result of his business success, Newman donated more than $250 million to 1,000 groups, including the Scott Newman Center -- devoted to anti-drug education -- and several Hole in the Wall Gang camps, designed for children with life-threatening diseases, with locations in France, Ireland and Israel as well as the U.S. Every summer, Newman stayed at the original camp in Ashford, Conn., where he told ghost stories and staged shows with other celebrities for children who knew him only as the face on the lemonade carton.
"If I leave a legacy," he said in 2006, "it will be the camps."