Icons of the Century

At his best when countering his ridiculously good looks by playing rascally, insolent smart-asses, Newman gave the world the callous, womanizing cowhand of “Hud”; the hard-headed rebel prisoner of “Cool Hand Luke”; and the self-destructive pool shark of “The Hustler.” All three landed him Oscar nominations.

If his early work as boxer Rocky Graziano in “Somebody Up There Likes Me” and outlaw Billy the Kid in “The Left-Handed Gun” revealed an obvious debt to forebears like Marlon Brando and, even more so, James Dean, Newman — like few of the method-acting legends of the ’50s — made his career last a lifetime, and paired major box office success (“Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid,” “The Sting”) with extensive charity work and a good marriage, to acting colleague Joanne Woodward.

The Academy might have jumped the gun by giving him an honorary Oscar in 1986 after seven nominations (he would win best actor the next year for “The Color of Money”) but in an industry full of real-life scoundrels, Newman goes a long way toward showing the town class.

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