Friend confirms Paul Newman has cancer

Wed Jun 11, 2008 4:58pm EDT
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By Alex Dobuzinskis

LOS ANGELES (Reuters) - Actor Paul Newman told friends as far back as 18 months ago that he was battling cancer but has remained energetic and active in charity work, a friend and business associate said on Wednesday.

Writer A.E. Hotchner, who co-founded Newman's Own food products with the actor, told Reuters that Newman, 83, was doing fine as of two weeks ago. Asked if Newman had cancer, Hotchner said "he made it known to a lot of his friends."

Hotchner, who lives near Newman and his wife, actress Joanne Woodward, in Westport, Connecticut, said he did not know what type of cancer Newman had because "I don't believe it's any of my business, and I don't want to get into it."

The widely acclaimed actor of films such as "The Color of Money" and "The Sting" on Tuesday responded to a flurry of unconfirmed media reports that he was gravely ill with cancer by issuing a terse statement saying he was "doing nicely."

His Los Angeles-based spokesman Jeff Sanderson declined to elaborate and on Wednesday was not immediately available to comment.

According to numerous reports, Newman has been diagnosed with lung cancer and was undergoing outpatient treatment at Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center in New York. A spokeswoman for Sloan-Kettering has said she had no information about whether Newman was a patient there.

Last month, Newman stepped down as director of a stage play of John Steinbeck's "Of Mice and Men" at the Westport Country Playhouse in Connecticut, citing unspecified health issues. The blue-eyed star announced just over a year ago he was retiring from a half-century career in acting because of his age.

STILL 'ENERGETIC'   Continued...

<p>Actor Paul Newman during an appearance on "The Tonight Show" in a 2005 photo. A longtime friend and business associate of the Oscar-winning actor said on Wednesday that Newman had made it known to his friends as far back as 18 months ago that he had cancer. REUTERS/Jim Ruymen</p>