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Consistency, longevity and enviable talent: they are the foundations of any true style icon. And if your name is Mr Paul Newman, you can claim your share of all three. Actor, director, professional racing car driver and philanthropist - the man was as deserving of this status as anyone. And, looking at what we're all liking in the spring collections, now seems the right time to pay him tribute.
Early in his career, Mr Newman sought anti-hero film roles in the likes of Butch Cassidy, Cool Hand Luke and Fast Eddie in The Hustler, to override his early pretty-boy pigeonholes (no mean feat with those bright blue eyes), gaining the actor an anti-authority image. Mr Newman had the rare ability to make the tricky transition from Fifties cinema to the Sixties and Seventies and, in 1968, he even found time for his directorial debut in Rachel, Rachel. Nearly 35 years later Mr Newman still hadn't outstayed his welcome: he would garner eight nominations for Road to Perdition.
Before his time on screen, Mr Newman, who was born and grew up in Ohio, was an aircraft radio operator in World War Two. His first Hollywood film
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came in 1954 at the age of 29 - the historical epic The Silver Chalice. This would be the same year that he starred alongside Mr Frank Sinatra, and reportedly replaced Mr James Dean, in a musical of Our Town. Talk about moving in the right circles.
Allegedly expelled from Ohio University in the early 1940s for crashing a keg of beer into the President's car (we hope this is true), there was clearly some of the rebel in Mr Newman, which he brought to the undershirt - and slack- wearing misfits he would later represent. Also, despite being the picture of a gentleman in a tuxedo, he always seemed more comfortable in a V-neck sweater and plain-front trousers. Mr Warren Cowan, his publicist and friend for 50 years, once said that, "After Paul won the Jean Hersholt Humanitarian Award in 1994, he had a bonfire with his tuxedo... He's down to just a few pairs of slacks and cords, a few shirts and sweaters."
Mr Newman was nothing if not tireless and tenacious. After training with cars for his 1969 film Winning, he embarked on a career in racing, entering into his first race in 1972, with his first professional victory in 1982. He was still going full throttle in 1995 at Daytona, which was a 70th birthday present to himself. Whether it was acting, charity or racing, Mr Newman invested in his passions and never stopped. For having his foot firmly on the accelerator up until his death in 2008, we salute a truly immovable style icon.