She has his famous cool blue eyes. His love of fly-fishing. His passion for race cars. His business savvy. And his generous spirit.
Nell Newman, daughter of Paul -- as in Butch Cassidy, as in Cool Hand Luke, as in heart-throb actor-director -- is very much her father's daughter. Yet very much her own person.
The 42-year-old may have shrugged off acting, but she followed in Dad's footsteps in another way -- by establishing and running Newman's Own Organics, The Second Generation, a division of his Newman's Own specialty food products company. Like Dad, she gives all after-tax profits from the company's organic cookies, pretzels, chocolate and tortilla chips to charity.
When it comes to this family, food has long been not just a pleasure, but a cause.
Newman, a former biologist, now serves as "director / daughter" (as her business card reads) at Newman's Own Organics in Aptos, Calif. But she has also become an outspoken activist, particularly against genetically modified foods.
She has testified at a hearing for the U.S. Food and Drug Administration and her views have landed her on the front page of the Wall Street Journal -- the only Newman to be so featured.
Newman grew up in Westport, Conn., the eldest daughter of Paul Newman and Joanne Woodward. The family raised chickens, and when her mother wasn't caught up in one of her "health-food" kicks, making nut loaf with yeast gravy and the like, she and her eldest daughter would bake apple pies.
Newman became fascinated with birds of prey, which she trained and flew. That interest eventually led her to Santa Cruz, Calif., where she took a job as a fund-raiser for the Predatory Bird Research Group at the University of California-Santa Cruz.
There, she made an alarming discovery. The group's field researchers handled eggs so contaminated with toxic substances that they had to have their blood tested regularly. Although she didn't work directly with those eggs, Newman had her blood tested anyway. The results showed contamination from DDT, PCBs and chlordane, a termite pesticide.
It made her realize that no matter how hard she worked to re-establish endangered bird populations, they would be released into a contaminated environment.
Adding to her dismay, once 800 peregrine falcons were raised and released, donations dwindled.
"I thought, this is ridiculous," she says. "I should just do what my dad's doing and donate the money."
Over Thanksgiving dinner, for which she toted home a suitcase of organic products, she persuaded her father to let her start an organic food products line. He was a bit apprehensive at first, given his wife's previous forays into health-food cooking. But his daughter's dinner convinced him that organic food indeed could taste good.
So he was game. After all, he started Newman's Own on a lark that grew out of his tradition of giving friends old wine bottles filled with homemade salad dressing at Christmas. Since 1982, Newman's Own has given away more than $100 million.
In 1993, with a $125,000 loan from her father, Newman and Peter Meehan, an old friend who cleaned the Newman family pool as a teen-ager and went on to earn a business degree, started the organics line out of their homes. The privately held division doubled its sales in 1994, 1995, 1996 and 1997, Meehan says.
The first product was a no-brainer: pretzels, her father's favorite snack. They soon became the top selling organic pretzels in the natural foods market, beating two other companies.
In that tradition, all the division's products are Newman family favorites. Newman's Own Organics now is the leading brand in organic cookies, organic chocolates and organic pretzels, Meehan says.