Paul Newman’s Daughter Reflects on the Actor’s Passion for Giving Back

by Joe Rutland
(Photo Courtesy Getty Images)

Paul Newman put together quite a resume of acting roles yet his life also would be one of many philanthropic endeavors. More about this part of his life comes out in a new memoir titled Paul Newman: The Extraordinary Life of an Ordinary Man. The book, which is coming out 14 years after his death, talks about finding fulfillment in these pieces of his life.

Newman launched the SeriousFun Children’s Network, which happens to be a family of camps and programs for children with life-threatening illnesses. Clea Newman, Paul’s daughter, talks about this with PEOPLE. “He really wanted to make a difference and give back,” Newman says. “He went very deep with the camps. We now have 30 camps and programs all over the world. Last year, we served 150,000 children and their families, all free of charge. It’s an incredible thing that he started.”

Paul Newman Opened His First Camp In 1988

She continues, “He was so passionate about opening our first camp and then it just became part of his persona.” Clea happens to be the youngest of his three children with Joanne Woodward, his second wife. “All his extra free time was spent there, being with the kids, working to open up new camps, talking to families, talking to the kids. It was such a heartfelt passion.”

This first camp opened up in 1988 in Ashford, Connecticut. It’s called The Hole in the Wall Gang Camp. This was the first of many from Paul Newman and his Newman’s Own Foundation. Now, the foundation donates 100 percent of profits from its product sales to help kids. Up to this date, it has donated more than $500 million to thousands of nonprofits worldwide, including Safe Water Network, which Newman also founded.

All of this actually started back in 1982. That’s when Paul Newman and friend A. E. Hotchner made a batch of vinaigrette as Christmas presents. It was for their friends. When the friends kept on returning for more, Newman would get the idea that a simple dressing could make money for a good cause. He happens to be told at one time products would sell better at supermarkets if Newman’s face was on the label. He said, “Once we decided that’s what we wanted to do, we decided we’d give the money away. We had no idea whether the business would be successful.”

Newman was clear that 100 percent of after-tax profits go straight to charities and causes that he believed in. Clea did say that her father “couldn’t bear the thought of any child being on a waitlist” for a camp. He would dedicate his time to ensure those programs he had assisted as many as possible.