Newman stars in Cool Hand Luke

On this day in 1967, Cool Hand Luke, starring Paul Newman as a tough, anti-authoritarian, poker-playing prisoner, debuts in theaters. Newman received a Best Actor Oscar nomination for his portrayal of the jail-breaking Luke Jackson, whom the American Film Institute in 2003 named one of the top 50 greatest movie heroes in history. For his role as the chain-gang boss, Dragline, co-star George Jackson collected a Best Supporting Actor Oscar. Directed by Stuart Rosenberg (Voyage of the Damned, The Amityville Horror, The Pope of Greenwich Village), Cool Hand Luke contained the now-famous lines: “What we have here is a failure to communicate” and “I don’t care if it rains or freezes, long as I have my plastic Jesus, right here on the dashboard of my car…”

At the time of Cool Hand Luke’s debut, Paul Newman was already on the path to becoming one of Hollywood’s greatest leading men. The actor, who was born January 26, 1925, in Cleveland and raised in Shaker Heights, Ohio, served in the U.S. Navy during World War II and later graduated from Kenyon College. He acted on Broadway in the early 1950s and made his big-screen debut in 1954’s The Silver Chalice. Newman received his first Best Actor Oscar nomination for his performance as Brick Pollitt in 1958’s Cat on a Hot Tin Roof, based on the Tennessee Williams play and co-starring Elizabeth Taylor. Newman’s next two Best Actor Oscar nominations came for The Hustler (1961) and Hud (1963).

In 1969, the famously blue-eyed actor teamed up with Robert Redford to play a pair of Old West bank robbers in the hit Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid, which earned seven Academy Award nominations, including Best Picture. The two handsome screen icons collaborated again in 1973’s The Sting, which collected seven Oscars, including Best Picture. Newman went on to star in such movies as Absence of Malice (1981) and The Verdict (1982), both of which earned him Best Actor Oscar nominations, and The Color of Money (1986), for which he took home his first Best Actor Oscar. In the film, directed by Martin Scorsese, Newman plays Fast Eddie Felson, a pool hustler who finds a protege in a young player portrayed by Tom Cruise. In the later years of his acting career, Newman also received Oscar nominations for his performances in Nobody’s Fool (1994) and Road to Perdition (2002), with Tom Hanks.

Newman, who outside of acting was known for his avid interest in race-car driving and his Newman’s Own line of foods (the profits of which go to charity), also stepped behind the camera to direct such movies as Rachel, Rachel (1968), which starred his second wife, Joanne Woodward (the couple married in 1958 and starred in 10 movies together) and earned a Best Picture Oscar nomination, and The Glass Menagerie (1987), which featured Woodward and John Malkovich. Paul Newman died at his home in Westport, Connecticut, on September 26, 2008, at the age of 83.


European Union goes into effect

The Maastricht Treaty comes into effect, formally establishing the European Union (EU). The treaty was drafted in 1991 by delegates from the European Community meeting at Maastricht in the Netherlands and signed in 1992. The agreement called for a strengthened European more

Sistine Chapel ceiling opens to public

The ceiling of the Sistine Chapel in Rome, one of Italian artist Michelangelo’s finest works, is exhibited to the public for the first time. Michelangelo Buonarroti, the greatest of the Italian Renaissance artists, was born in the small village of Caprese in 1475. The son of a more

Two new programs initiated in South Vietnam

The U.S. mission in Saigon initiates two operations designed to bolster rural security and development efforts. The Le Loi program was an intensified civic action campaign intended to repair the damage done by the enemy’s offensives earlier in the year and to return control of more

John Adams moves into White House

On this day in 1800, President John Adams, in the last year of his only term as president, moved into the newly constructed President’s House, the original name for what is known today as the White House. Adams had been living in temporary digs at Tunnicliffe’s City Hotel near more

Legendary western lawman is murdered

On this day, William Tilghman is murdered by a corrupt prohibition agent who resented Tilghman’s refusal to ignore local bootlegging operations. Tilghman, one of the famous marshals who brought law and order to the Wild West, was 71 years old. Known to both friends and enemies as more

Earthquake takes heavy toll on Lisbon

A devastating earthquake hits Lisbon, Portugal, killing as many as 50,000 people, on this day in 1755. The city was virtually rebuilt from scratch following the widespread destruction. Lisbon was Portugal’s capital and largest city during the prosperous 18th century, when more

United States tests first hydrogen bomb

The United States detonates the world’s first thermonuclear weapon, the hydrogen bomb, on Eniwetok atoll in the Pacific. The test gave the United States a short-lived advantage in the nuclear arms race with the Soviet Union. Following the successful Soviet detonation of an atomic more

McClellan replaces Scott

On this day in 1861, President Abraham Lincoln names George Brinton McClellan general in chief of the Union army, replacing the aged and infirm Winfield Scott. In just six months, McClellan had gone from commander of the Ohio volunteers to the head of the Union army. McClellan, more

Detroit-Windsor Tunnel is dedicated

On this day in 1930, President Herbert Hoover turns a telegraphic “golden key” in the White House to mark the opening of the 5,160-foot-long Detroit-Windsor Tunnel between the U.S. city of Detroit, Michigan, and the Canadian city of Windsor, Ontario. The tunnel opened to regular more

Parliament enacts the Stamp Act

In the face of widespread opposition in the American colonies, Parliament enacts the Stamp Act, a taxation measure designed to raise revenue for British military operations in America. Defense of the American colonies in the French and Indian War (1754-63) and Pontiac’s Rebellion more

The Battle of Coronel

In a crushing victory, a German naval squadron commanded by Vice-Admiral Maximilian von Spee sinks two British armored cruisers with all aboard off the southern coast of Chile on November 1, 1914, in the Battle of Coronel. World War I broke out on the European continent in August more