A trained stage actor, Newman appeared five times on Broadway, including the original productions of William Inge's Picnic, which earned him a Theatre World Award, and Tennessee Williams' Sweet Bird of Youth, later appearing in that show's film version, and returning to the stage in 2004 to play the Stage Manager in James Naughton's revival of Thornton Wilder's Our Town, for which he received a Tony Award nomination for Best Actor.
Newman's 50-year career in Hollywood brought him nine Oscar nominations for acting, beginning with the film version of Williams' Cat on a Hot Tin Roof, and eventually winning for The Color of Money. He also received a nomination as producer of Rachel, Rachel, which he directed and which starred his wife Joanne Woodward, and he won two honorary Oscars. He also directed Woodward in a film version of Williams' The Glass Menagerie.
He was actively involved in the Westport Country Playhouse, where Woodward is one of the artistic directors, He appeared in numerous productions and benefits there, including Ancestral Voices, and was scheduled to direct its upcoming production of Of Mice and Men before he became seriously ill.
In addition to Woodward and their daughters Elinor, Melissa, and Claire, he is survived by his daughters Susan and Stephanie from his first marriage to Jackie Witte. Their son, Scott, died in 1978 from an accidental drug overdose.