A look at Paul Newman's film career

The late Paul Newman in his Oscar-winning role <i>The Color of Money.</i>
The late Paul Newman in his Oscar-winning role &lt;i&gt;The Color of Money.&lt;/i&gt;

Through the course of more than five decades of work in film Paul Newman, a Shaker Heights, Ohio, native pieced together an impressive range of work. But it wasn't until 1986's The Color of Money, in which he reprised his role of "Fast" Eddie Felson from 1961's The Hustler, that Newman won a long-overdue Best Actor Oscar. Newman kept busy for another two decades, before retiring from film in 2006. You would be hard-pressed to find any actor who remained so relevant, so popular, and so good for so long.

Some interesting choices from his career:

Somebody Up There Likes Me, 1956. As boxer Rocky Graziano, this was Newman's first big role, followed by 1958's Cat on a Hot Tin Roof.

The Hustler, 1961. Newman was already big. The Hustler made him a star.

Cool Hand Luke, 1967, and Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid, 1969. The anti-hero perfected.

The Sting, 1973. This re-pairing of Newman and Robert Redford was one of the biggest films of its time, and helped prove populist entertainment and intelligence aren't mutually exclusive.

The Towering Inferno, 1974. Perhaps this goes against the above-mentioned rule. For what it's worth, The Towering Inferno is probably the best of all the Irwin Allen disaster movies.

Slapshot, 1977. Newman as an aging hockey player-coach is the glue that holds this comedy together.

Absence of Malice, 1981, and The Verdict, 1982. Newman was nominated for Best Actor in both dramas. But it took his reprisal of "Fast" Eddie Felson from The Hustler in this 1986 Martin Scorsese-helmed sequel The Color of Money, to earn Newman his first Oscar gold.

The Hudsucker Proxy, 1994. Considered to be the Coen Brother's biggest failure. Still, Newman is a comedic delight as cigar-chomping corporate villain Sidney J. Mussburger.

Road to Perdition, 2004. Newman's last on-screen role, for which he was nominated for supporting actor.

Cars, 2006. As a once-great racing car now past its prime, Newman's final role seems somehow fitting to bookend his career. This Pixar movie is also a great way to introduce Newman to kids.

Contact Kirk Baird at kbaird@theblade.com or 419-724-6734