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Larry King: I admired 'superstar' actor Paul Newman

  • Story Highlights
  • Larry King met Paul Newman in the 1960s when "Cool Hand Luke" came out
  • Newman is at the top of "A-list" stars, King says
  • Newman was known just as well for his charity work, products
  • Actor died in his home at the age of 83 on Friday
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(CNN) -- Legendary actor Paul Newman died of cancer at his home in Westport, Connecticut, at the age of 83.

The actor, who was known for his classic roles in movies such as "Cool Hand Luke" and "Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid," died Friday according to his spokeswoman.

CNN's Larry King, who interviewed Newman a number of times, spoke about what it was like to interview the legendary actor and his impact on the entertainment industry.

CNN: When did you first meet Paul Newman?

Larry King: In the 1960s, when "Cool Hand Luke" came out, he was on my radio and television shows in Miami promoting that movie. So I've known him 40 years. Well I admired him so much as an actor. I was a great fan of his. Video Watch Larry King talk about Paul Newman »

I found him extraordinarily honest as an interview, forthcoming and to the point. He was not an elaborative person -- by that I mean, he didn't give you extra words. If it took 20 words, he gave you 20 words, not 25.

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He also said something I've never forgotten. He said it the first time I interviewed him. He said anybody who is successful in life and who doesn't use the word luck is a liar. He thought that luck visited everybody who was successful. Stars honor screen legend »

CNN: What's his legacy?

King: He was a great actor, of course; that's obvious. His charitable work, the $200 million he raised, the things he did with kids, the camps, the products he produced. He was one of the forerunners, when you think of it, of healthy eating. He was into that early. Video Watch one of the staffers at Newman's camps talk about him »

He had an extraordinarily happy show business marriage. The odds against that were enormous. He was a racecar driver; he was adventuresome; he took on challenging roles.

He made so many extraordinary films. There were so many different avenues he touched. He was amazing. iReport.com: What do you remember best about Paul Newman?

CNN: How often did you interview him?

King: A total of about five times, and once Paul McCartney's ex-wife interviewed him on my show. I had a night off, and she interviewed him. I had one social dinner with him. I would run into him at events. It wasn't a social relationship; it was professional.

CNN: What was he like in your interviews?

King: He was a great person to explain roles he did. And then once we did an interview just on his foods and charity and racecar driving ... but most of the times it was about acting.

CNN: In the pantheon of Hollywood celebrities, where did he rank, and how was he viewed?

King: I think he ranked at the top. He would be in the superstar vein. The word I would use about Hollywood and Paul Newman would be respect. People had enormous respect for him, for his ability, for all he'd done, what he did with his life.

He was incredible when you think about all he'd done. Here's a guy, he parlayed a good acting career into a great acting career, charity into enormous charity, racecar driving into celebrity. He'd be on the "A" list way up at the top.

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CNN: What roles stand out in your mind, aside from "Cool Hand Luke"?

King: Hud, "Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid," and the last movie he did, "Road to Perdition," he did with Tom Hanks. He was nominated for an Academy Award. He was unbelievable.

All About Paul NewmanJoanne WoodwardNewman's Own Inc.Robert Redford

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