Actor Paul Newman Visits UC Berkeley, Teaches About Generosity

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To the delight of camera-clicking fans and salad lovers, Academy Award winner-turned-philanthropist Paul Newman came to campus yesterday to draw attention to the role of charity in the corporate world.

In a panel discussion at the Haas School of Business, Newman outlined the goals of his company, Newman's Own, Inc., which donates all of its after-tax profits to charity. Throughout the afternoon's program, Newman's sense of humor shone through.

"A number of people have come up to me and said 'thank you for coming,'" he said. "My response is, say that when you're leaving."

Humor aside, however, Newman said he takes philanthropy seriously and sees it as an integral part of any company.

"I respect generosity in people," he said. "Why would I expect some organization that people work for not to be generous? I don't look at it as philanthropy. I look at those dollars as investments in the community that allows them to function."

In an instant, however, it was Newman the joker again.

"I also have some odd theories like if you don't vote, you shouldn't be allowed to call the fire department," he said.

Newman's Own began in 1982 with an oil and vinegar salad dressing the actor himself developed. The line has since expanded to include pasta sauces, salsas, popcorn, lemonade and steak sauces.

In conversation with Haas Dean Laura Tyson and lobbyist Liz Robbins, Newman said he never thought his face would appear on a bottle of spaghetti sauce, but then again, he has found most of his life a bit surprising.

"Most of the things that have happened to me have happened as a matter of luck," he said. "I have had such a string of good fortunes in my life."

A nine-time Oscar nominee, Newman finally won the award in 1986 for The Color of Money. He is perhaps most famous for his role in Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid, with Robert Redford. But in recent years, two other of Newman's ventures have drawn attention - racecar driving and his company.

By his own admission, Newman is not a businessman.

"I don't speak the language of business," he said. "I don't know how to use a computer. I've never touched a computer. I'm concerned about all the instruments getting us through the day."

Yesterday's forum was part of the business school's Socially Responsible Business Leadership Program.

Newman's Own, Inc. has given more than $100 million to charity and has even launched its own set of summer camps for sick children, called The Hole in the Wall Gang Camp.

"I have a feeling that the success of the business was that we didn't take it very seriously and we always had a sense of humor," he said, adding that a company survey found 73 percent of customers had no idea the business' profits went to charity.

And then it was time to make them laugh again.

"I wanna say something about California," quipped the New Yorker. "Immediately when I step off the plane, my nose slams shut. I don't know what you have in the air out here."

Laughing, Tyson responded.

"It's fresh air," she said.


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