Paul Newman

AP Photo/Darron Cummings

Paul Newman is: (a) "doing nicely," (b) battling "a form of cancer," (c) both of the above or (d) just one of the above.

The health status of one of Hollywood's greatest leading men was back in play today after a new series of conflicting reports.

Early today, Newman friend A.E. Hotchner was quoted as telling the Associated Press that Newman has a "form of cancer, and he's dealing with it."

Hotchner, who, with the Oscar-winning actor, launched the now ubiquitous Newman's Own label of salad dressings, spaghetti sauces and other specialty foods, said Newman told him of the condition 18 months ago, the AP reported.

In a Reuters report, Hotchner was quoted as saying Newman made his cancer diagnosis "known to a lot of his friends."

But within hours of the initial AP report, Hotchner said he was "misquoted" by the wire service, Access Hollywood reported.

"I saw him last week and he seemed fine," Hotchner said of Newman, per the TV show. "I have no knowledge of any diagnosis or doctors...The AP misquoted me. I have no knowledge of Mr. Newman being treated for any illness."

A phone message left at a number believed to be Hotchner's was not immediately returned.

The AP is said to be standing by its story. The Reuters story was not referenced in the Access Hollywood report.

On Tuesday, as photos of Newman looking thinner than usual spread, along with reports that the 83-year-old star was terminally ill with lung cancer, Newman's agent told E! News that the stories were "not true." In a less-specific statement, Jeff Sanderson, a spokesman for Newman, said the star was "doing nicely."

In the interview with the AP, Hotchner is not quoted as saying Newman's cancer is either terminal or of the lung, although he is quoted as saying that the actor had an operation "certainly somewhere in the area of the lung" a few years ago.

The AP also quotes two other friends, the Tony Award-winning actor James Naughton and Michael Brockman, a partner in Newman's race-car team, as saying the Hollywood icon is still engaged.

"As far as I can tell, he's doing well," Naughton told the wire service.

Brockman offered, "I think he looks great. I wish I looked that good."

While Naughton talked of seeing Newman at a fundraiser this month, and Brockman spoke of Newman itching to get behind the wheel of one of their high-performance cars, other signs point to the star slowing down.

Last year, Newman said he was probably done with acting. He blamed not his health, per se, but his memory, saying he just couldn't memorize lines like he used to.

Last month, he cited unspecified health issues in pulling out as director of a play in his Westport, Conn., hometown. That item, along with a photo of a bearded, thin Newman at the Indianapolis 500 over Memorial Day weekend, and one of him at a charity event that was posted on Martha Stewart's blog last Friday, fueled speculation of a dire prognosis.

Newman, who last appeared on screen in the 2005 miniseries Empire Falls, for which he won an Emmy, has been deflecting, if not denying reports of his imminent demise for more than a year.

A 10-time Academy Award nominee, Newman claimed his Oscar for 1986's The Color of Money.

(Originally published June 11, 2008 at 11:35 a.m. PT.)

  • Share
  • Tweet
  • Share

We and our partners use cookies on this site to improve our service, perform analytics, personalize advertising, measure advertising performance, and remember website preferences. By using the site, you consent to these cookies. For more information on cookies including how to manage your consent visit our Cookie Policy.