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Paul Newman | Source: Getty Images
Paul Newman | Source: Getty Images

Paul Newman Had 6 Children with 2 Women – His Will Caused a Rift between His Family and Adviser

Jana Stevens
Nov 29, 2022
10:31 A.M.

Paul Newman was a recipient of numerous accolades, best known for his role in "Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid" and "The Sting." He had been married twice and fathered six children. His final will caused great unhappiness in the family.

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After finishing college in 1949, Paul Newman did summer stock theater in Wisconsin, where he met his first wife, actress Jacqueline Witte. They welcomed three children; Scott, Stephanie, and Susan.

He made his Broadway debut in William Inge's "Picnic" in 1953, where he met actress Joanne Woodward during rehearsals, who served as an understudy. They wed in 1958, the same year as his divorce from Witte. The couple was married for 50 years until his death in 2008.

Paul Newman and Joanne Woodward with their and daughters. | Source: Getty Images

Paul Newman and Joanne Woodward with their and daughters. | Source: Getty Images

Newman Was a Great Father despite Regrets about His Son's Death

Regardless of his complex will, Paul did his best to be a great father, although he had regrets after his son's death. In 1978, the father of six's life hit rock bottom when his only son Scott died of a drug-and-alcohol overdose at age 28.

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During a fishing trip in the Bahamas, Newman confided in A. E. Hotchner that he often thought about Scott, which hurt. "The guilt. The guilt. All I could have done. And didn't do. And all I did was make more movies and be a big star," said Newman.

His biggest regret was that he and Scott had never talked about his problems. The actor established the Scott Newman Center in his late son's memory to promote education on the dangers of alcohol and drug abuse among the youth.

Paul Newman and his son Scott Newman during the Ontario 500 automobile race on September 3, 1972 in Ontario, California. | Source: Getty Images

Paul Newman and his son Scott Newman during the Ontario 500 automobile race on September 3, 1972 in Ontario, California. | Source: Getty Images

Scott Newman Had a Troubled Childhood

Paul and Witte welcomed their first child, Allan Scott Newman, on September 23, 1950, in Cleveland, Ohio. The boy, who went by his middle name Scott, had a troubled adolescence; he got kicked out of several prep schools for using drugs and alcohol and for disruptive behavior.

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He dropped out of college in the '60s to pursue acting, and his father helped him land his first film role as a fireman in "The Towering Inferno" in 1974. In his next project in 1975, "The Great Waldo Pepper," he utilized his skydiving experience to double as an aviator stuntman in the film.

At one point, he changed his name to William Scott to chase a career as a stuntman and also tried to launch a singing career. The young entertainer's death in Los Angeles, California, on November 20, 1978, was ruled an accidental drug-and-alcohol overdose.

American actor Joanne Woodward (left) and her stepdaughter, film producer Susan Newman sighted at Chasen's restaurant, Beverly Hills, California, March 29, 1981. | Source: Getty Images

American actor Joanne Woodward (left) and her stepdaughter, film producer Susan Newman sighted at Chasen's restaurant, Beverly Hills, California, March 29, 1981. | Source: Getty Images

Paul Newman and Jackie Witte Had Two Daughters

Susan Newman was born on February 21, 1953, in New York City and moved to California with her mother after her parent's divorce. She moved back to NYC at 21 to become an actress instead of going to college despite being a gifted student.

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She had a bit part in her dad's film "Slap Shot" in 1977 and had a handful of roles in films like "A Wedding" before becoming an award-winning producer. She also served as executive director of various child welfare and substance abuse charities.

Stephanie Newman was born in 1954, a year after her father met the woman who would become his second wife. She has a quiet existence, and Susan once called her a "free spirit farmer-writer-painter" and is not involved in the family's charities or businesses.

Paul Newman, actress Joanne Woodward with daughters Melissa 'Lissy' Newman and Claire 'Clea' Newman on December 02, 1974 | Source: Getty Images

Paul Newman, actress Joanne Woodward with daughters Melissa 'Lissy' Newman and Claire 'Clea' Newman on December 02, 1974 | Source: Getty Images

Nell Potts Was a Successful Child-Star and Innovator in Business

Child star Nell Newman, born April 8, 1959, took the stage name Nell Potts. She starred with Woodward in 1968's "Rachel, Rachel," and the 1972 film directed by her dad, "The Effect of Gamma Rays on Man-in-the-Moon Marigolds."

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She received a bachelor's degree in human ecology from the College of the Atlantic. After graduation, she worked for environmental organizations before joining the family food business, Newman's Own, under its mantle, where she co-founded Newman's Own Organics.

The entrepreneur left the business after a falling out with the parent company in 2014. She is married to Gary Irving and continues her father's charitable spirit through the Nell Newman Foundation that she launched in 2010.

Claire Newman, Joanne Woodward, Susan Newman and Melissa Newman attend the after party for the celebration of Paul Newman's Hole in the Wall camps at Alice Tully Hall on June 8, 2009 in New York City. | Source: Getty Images

Claire Newman, Joanne Woodward, Susan Newman and Melissa Newman attend the after party for the celebration of Paul Newman's Hole in the Wall camps at Alice Tully Hall on June 8, 2009 in New York City. | Source: Getty Images

Melissa "Lissy" Newman was born on September 27, 1961. She graduated from Sarah Lawrence College in 1988 and was a child star in "The New Perry Mason" and "See How She Runs" with her mom. She performed as a singer over the years and also performed commercial jingles.

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In battling his illness, Paul initially tried to downplay concerns about his health.

Lissy married a teacher, Raphael P. Elkind, in November 1995, and they share two kids, Henry and Peter. The couple bought the Westport, Connecticut house she grew up in from her parents in 1998. She reportedly volunteers at a correctional facility arts program.

Clea Newman, Susan Newman, and Nell Newman daughters of actor Paul Newman arrive at An Evening Of SeriousFun Celebrating The Legacy Of Paul Newman at Dolby Theatre on May 14, 2015 in Hollywood, California. | Source: Getty Images

Clea Newman, Susan Newman, and Nell Newman daughters of actor Paul Newman arrive at An Evening Of SeriousFun Celebrating The Legacy Of Paul Newman at Dolby Theatre on May 14, 2015 in Hollywood, California. | Source: Getty Images

Paul Newman's Youngest Daughter Is a Qualified Lawyer

The youngest of the Newman clan, Claire Olivia "Clea" Newman, was welcomed in April 1965 and went on to study law at Sarah Lawrence College. She worked in post-production on titles such as "Mad Men" and "Big Little Lies," which she also produced.

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Additionally, she has producer credits on "The Big C" and "Sharp Objects." Her husband, Kurt Soderlund, is the CEO of Safe Water Network, which her father co-founded.

The producer said in August 2018 that she would ensure that her dad's legacy lives on. Clea revealed that from a young age, her parents taught her and her siblings that being a good citizen in the community and giving back should be a priority if one grows up in a well-off family.

Joanne Woodward and Paul Newman at Radio City Music Hall for "A Change Is Going To Come: The Concert for John Kerry" July 8, 2004 in New York City. | Source: Getty Images

Joanne Woodward and Paul Newman at Radio City Music Hall for "A Change Is Going To Come: The Concert for John Kerry" July 8, 2004 in New York City. | Source: Getty Images

Newman Died a Year after Retiring from Acting

Paul had an illustrious acting career, including winning an Oscar, an Academy Award, and three Golden Globe awards. In May 2007, he told ABC News about his plans to retire:

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"I'm not able to work anymore as an actor at the level that I would want to. You start to lose your memory. You start to lose your confidence and you start to lose your invention. So, I think that's a closed book for me."

Sadly, he passed away in September 2008 at the age of 83 after losing a long battle against cancer. The entrepreneur died at his farmhouse near Westport, Connecticut, surrounded by family and close friends.

American actors and newlyweds Paul Newman and Joanne Woodward kiss behind a wedding cake during their wedding reception at the El Rancho hotel-casino, Las Vegas, Nevada, January 29, 1958. | Source: Getty Images

American actors and newlyweds Paul Newman and Joanne Woodward kiss behind a wedding cake during their wedding reception at the El Rancho hotel-casino, Las Vegas, Nevada, January 29, 1958. | Source: Getty Images

In battling his illness, Paul initially tried to downplay concerns about his health following reports that he had cancer treatment in New York. He once pulled out of directing a Connecticut stage production of John Steinbeck's "Of Mice and Men" because of unspecified health issues. Newman later released a statement that said he was "doing nicely."

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But Hotchner, who helped create the successful Newman's Own food company in 1982, revealed that his business partner had been sick for 18 months. Hotchner told the Associated Press that Newman had been battling cancer.

Later, the US press reported that the "Cars" star had finished chemotherapy and told his family that he wanted to die at home. Paul had developed lung cancer. His death did not close any books for his kids as they battled for the massive estate he left behind.

Former race car driver Paul Newman at the Indy 500 in May 1984 in Indianapolis, Indiana. | Source: Getty Images

Former race car driver Paul Newman at the Indy 500 in May 1984 in Indianapolis, Indiana. | Source: Getty Images

The Will Left a Rift between His Family & His Advisor

According to Paul's eldest daughter Susan, he declared he would not give his children an inheritance and believed a vast sum of money would only ruin their lives:

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"When we were children, our father informed us there would be no inheritance. He said large sums of money eroded your ambition and mostly sabotaged your life."

Susan further stated that she and all her siblings accepted that while noting that it was not to say that financial assistance would not be a factor over the years.

Actress Susan Kendall Newman photographed wearing a gray off-shoulder dress with a black turtle-neck underneath. | Source: Getty Images

Actress Susan Kendall Newman photographed wearing a gray off-shoulder dress with a black turtle-neck underneath. | Source: Getty Images

She revealed that in her mid-30s, her dad called a family meeting and told his family that he would make some provisions for all his kids. The actress said Woodward influenced her father in making his final decision to leave them something from his fortune.

Paul changed his tune after the death of his son Scott and began giving his surviving children money. In inspiring them to follow in his philanthropic footsteps, "The Hustler" star began giving each of his five daughters $25,000 annually – to donate to charities of their choice.

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The proud father planned to give his daughters $500,000 each with a foundation called Newman's Own Foundation set up for each of them after his death.

Director and entrepreneur Paul Newman pictured smiling in 1981 in New York City. | Source: Getty Images

Director and entrepreneur Paul Newman pictured smiling in 1981 in New York City. | Source: Getty Images

Earlier planning documents suggested that 50 percent of his residual estate would be equally distributed among his children's foundations, with the remaining 50 percent to support his wife, Woodward.

Throughout the years, Paul had often changed his estate plans. The executor of his will, Brian Murphy, revealed the distribution of his assets had been governed by the terms of a trust created in 1980:

"Over the years, the trust was amended twelve times, the last being in April 2008, six months before Paul's death."

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Paul Newman conversing with his daughter Susan Kendall Newman, during a break in the filming of the movie, "I Wanna Hold Your Hand," in Hollywood. | Source: Getty Images

Paul Newman conversing with his daughter Susan Kendall Newman, during a break in the filming of the movie, "I Wanna Hold Your Hand," in Hollywood. | Source: Getty Images

In 2006, Susan met with her father's advisor Robert Forrester. "I was told each daughter would inherit a million dollars, which was a sizable increase over what we had been told previously, and my father would set up foundations for each of us," said Susan.

She revealed Forrester told her that the foundations would receive funds with up to $30 million or more per daughter. Susan also learned that his Newman's Own Foundation would have some supervision over them and that monies had to be administered within a certain period.

In addition, the children were to serve on the Newman's Own Foundation board and the entity controlled by the Hole in the Wall Gang Camps, with one or two daughters serving on its board of directors on a rotating basis.

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Paul Newman and Joanne Woodward with two of their daughters during a performance by the Ballet Society of Los Angeles at the Wilshire-Ebell Theater in March 1969 Los Angeles, California. | Source: Getty Images

Paul Newman and Joanne Woodward with two of their daughters during a performance by the Ballet Society of Los Angeles at the Wilshire-Ebell Theater in March 1969 Los Angeles, California. | Source: Getty Images

On August 13, 2007, Paul candidly spoke on intentions for his family, stating that he would give all his brood a set amount to give away annually. "All my children get a certain amount to be able to give away every year, and they will be giving away my estate as well," he said.

On April 11, 2008, only six months before his death, the actor rewrote his will with the assistance of a new lawyer. On August 11, a medical report stated he suffered from memory loss. Paul would then call his nonagenarian attorney's Westport office instead of his new attorney, suggesting his already-decided issues.

When asked about Newman's state of mind in his final days, Forrester shared he was well in his right mind as he made thought-out decisions and was fully aware of his planning.

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Paul Newman at the Shrine Auditorium during the 67th Annual Academy Awards on March 27,1995 in Los Angeles, California. | Source: Getty Images

Paul Newman at the Shrine Auditorium during the 67th Annual Academy Awards on March 27,1995 in Los Angeles, California. | Source: Getty Images

Newman's Family Felt Betrayed by Forrester after His Death

Following Paul's funeral, the reading of his will backtracked on everything he and his advisors had repeatedly expressed. "We had the rug pulled from under us," said his daughter Susan.

Almost everything that the daughters were promised diminished. There were no details about one or two daughters rotating on the Newman's Own Foundation board because, according to Forrester, their father had a change of heart.

He said Newman never perceived Newman's Own as a family enterprise. Instead, for him, it was always about the public good. Forrester acknowledged that at some point, Newman pondered about having one daughter on each board serving a time-limited term but ultimately decided against it.

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Paul Newman and his daughter Susan Newman during Paul Newman sighting at the Riverside Raceway on April 26, 1981 at Riverside Raceway in Riverside, California. | Source: Getty Images

Paul Newman and his daughter Susan Newman during Paul Newman sighting at the Riverside Raceway on April 26, 1981 at Riverside Raceway in Riverside, California. | Source: Getty Images

The millions discussed as going into their foundations were deferred to Woodward's marital trust. Moreover, the daughter's foundations would not receive funding until her death to ensure that she was cared for sufficiently.

According to Susan, the keys to their father's wealth had been handed to Forrester as he became less and less communicative when they asked him for more meetings. "The keys had virtually been given to one man, Bob Forrester," she said.

Susan revealed that, before their father's death, Forrester preached a lot about transparency. However, after Newman's passing, everything else changed, and when they asked questions, she and her sisters were accused of being confrontational.

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Paul Newman and his daughter, actress Susan Kendall Newman, arriving at the Dorothy Chandler Pavilion for the Academy Awards ceremony on April 11, 1983 in Los Angeles, California. | Source: Getty Images

Paul Newman and his daughter, actress Susan Kendall Newman, arriving at the Dorothy Chandler Pavilion for the Academy Awards ceremony on April 11, 1983 in Los Angeles, California. | Source: Getty Images

He even reportedly had a flare-up when they asked to meet up with him. Soon after he gained complete control of the foundation, Forrester ensured that every employee remained mum about the happenings in the organization as it became impossible for the kids to get answers.

He later admitted that employees, business partners, advisors, and board members signed confidentiality agreements. Some of Newman's daughters considered asking for a 10-day continuance before the will got filed for probate.

Susan revealed they discussed the motion with numerous lawyers, and they did not see an issue with seeking clarity on the changes. But Forrester refused to cooperate and even threatened the daughters if they contested the will: "You're contesting the will and could be disinherited."

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Susan Kendall Newman pictured sitting on a staircase in January 1978 in Hollywood. | Source: Getty Images

Susan Kendall Newman pictured sitting on a staircase in January 1978 in Hollywood. | Source: Getty Images

He also said that he had no memory of conversing with the daughters about the request to challenge the will, adding they should not have made it with him but with other lawyers.

Forrester also alleged Woodward was well aware of her husband's estate plans. But those who know her stated otherwise, revealing she was upset to a point whereby the subject became taboo. Susan shared it was no secret that her stepmother despised Forrester:

"Joanne's dislike for Bob is well-known within her circle."

Bob Forrester during the 2018 SeriousFun Children's Network Gala at The Ziegfeld Ballroom on May 21, 2018 in New York City. | Source: Getty Images

Bob Forrester during the 2018 SeriousFun Children's Network Gala at The Ziegfeld Ballroom on May 21, 2018 in New York City. | Source: Getty Images

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Susan added that while her dad's foundation remains a global force in funding good works, some people doubt whether Paul's wishes are truly fulfilled.

Upon learning about the disposition of her spouse's reported $600 million estate, Woodward allegedly exclaimed: "Oh, my God, that's not what it was supposed to be!"

Newman's Own President and CEO Bob Forrester during SeriousFun Children's Network's New York City Gala at Avery Fisher Hall at Lincoln Center on March 2, 2015 in New York City. | Source: Getty mages

Newman's Own President and CEO Bob Forrester during SeriousFun Children's Network's New York City Gala at Avery Fisher Hall at Lincoln Center on March 2, 2015 in New York City. | Source: Getty mages

On why she spoke out about her father's fortune, Susan said as the oldest sibling, it was her responsibility to safeguard his legacy: "As Paul's eldest daughter, I feel a responsibility, call it a duty, to fulfill his wishes and safeguard his legacy."

According to a close friend of Paul Newman, despite all the back and forth, the true nature of his will may remain a mystery, "I don't know, and nobody knows precisely what the whole thing is in terms of Paul's wishes or settlements," said the pal.

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