Celebrity Retirement Scorecard: Paul Newman


Who is making it? Who is not? We've concocted retirement scorecards for some showcase retirees in entertainment, politics and sports. See the full list here.

Paul Newman
Paul Newman


Paul Newman
Former occupation/notable position held: Academy Award-Winning Actor
Activities during retirement: Food company founder/executive; philanthropist; race car driver/team owner
Retirement Report Card Grade: A

Recent unconfirmed reports have Paul Newman, now 83, battling lung cancer. If that's the case, you can bet on Newman to keep it a private affair. It's how he's lived his life, both as hot-commodity actor and as longtime, semi-retiree involved in far-ranging pursuits like Le Mans-caliber race car driving, food company leadership and philanthropy. Newman merits a hard-earned "A" as retiree.

Can you think of an actor who literally announced a retirement from stage and screen? In doing just that last year, Newman mused to BBC News, "You start to lose your memory, you start to lose your confidence, you start to lose your invention. So I think that's pretty much a closed book for me."

The commentary shows how in touch Newman is with himself. It's the kind of self-awareness that anyone contemplating retirement would be well-served by, in setting goals, evaluating abilities and considering what can continue to bring fulfillment.

Newman started his food company, Newman's Own, in the early 1980's, when it can be argued he was still near the peak of his acting powers. Having more money than he needed (not because the world needed another bag of microwave popcorn), he pledged all proceeds after taxes to charity. Tops on that list is the Hole in the Wall Gang camp, a live-in summer refuge for seriously ill children he founded just a few years after debuting Newman's Own.

In a way, Newman seemed to always possess a retiree's mindset: He made lifestyle choices meant to please none other than himself and those closest to him.

He shunned Hollywood living from the get-go, opting to set up house in his beloved Connectitcut. He openly (and without compensation) professed his love for Budweiser. He chose his work carefully, from iconic fare like Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid, to downright rowdy turns like Slap Shot.

If retirement is personal (it is), Newman may well have made the mold. His last big-ticket acting gig came in 2006 as the voice of Doc Hudson in Disney-Pixar's Cars, where his love of all things racing came through, as they used to say, in Technicolor.

Michael Burnham is CEO of My Next Phase, a consulting firm offering non-financial retirement planning products and services (www.mynextphase.com).