Rather than hiring grant officers, friends say, Newman and Hotchner chose the charities themselves in a casual way. Newman once wrote a check on the spot for someone who knocked on his door saying the local fire department needed a new fire engine, said Navasky, the Nation magazine editor.
Newman played sexy-senior roles into his 70s with films such as "Twilight" and moved on to cantankerous-father parts in "Message in a Bottle" and the TV film "Empire Falls." He was nominated for a Tony as the stage manager in a Broadway revival of "Our Town" and an Emmy for a taped TV version. After "Road to Perdition," he did voice work for the animated film "Cars" in 2006.
Newman didn't hide his disappointment that filmmaking had abandoned the "theater of the mind" for the "theater of the senses." He lamented that skyrocketing costs had increased the pressure on actors, writers and producers who could no longer afford to make mistakes and be part of a "growing-up process."
In 1997, he hinted he was struggling, explaining to National Public Radio's Daniel Zwerdling that "sometimes you begin to lose your center. . . . You become a collection of the successful mannerisms of the characters you play. . . . What you try to do is get rid of those successful mannerisms, get back to what you are at the core of your own personality."
In 2007, Newman announced his decision to retire, saying he'd lost confidence in his abilities, that acting was "pretty much a closed book for me."
Besides Doc Hudson, the animated Hornet voiced by Newman in the film "Cars," he called the role of Sully in 1994's "Nobody's Fool" the closest he had come to playing himself. Critics called Sully a "classic Newman type" -- an aging version of a witty loner who keeps friends and family at a distance to protect himself. A bond with his fearful little grandson opens up the possibility of becoming more involved with an estranged son and the rest of the community.
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"The most Paul moment," Stern said, "is when he sees the crazy lady down the street and offers his arm and walks her back home as if she were a queen. That's how I'll always remember Paul: dignifying other people."
In addition to his wife of 50 years, Newman is survived by daughters Susan, Stephanie, Nell, Melissa and Clea; two grandchildren; and his brother Arthur.
His family suggests donations in his name to the Assn. of Hole in the Wall Camps. Information: www.holeinthewallcamps.org.