THE BLOG

Great Role Models: Famous Fathers In Service

07/21/2009 05:12 am ET | Updated Nov 17, 2011

We all need role models, whether they help with family, career, or general life direction. Having someone to look up to keeps us positive, focused, and on our path to living our dreams. Sometimes our role model is a family member, a close friend, or someone we don't even know personally but admire. Our role models change and evolve with us. We may have started out with Superman and Wonder Woman, moved on to teachers, and ended up with someone else. Our lives, interests and passions are subject to change. Thankfully there are enough role models to go around. In honor of Father's Day, an under recognized national holiday, here are a few fathers whose commitment to service (even beyond just being a dad) makes them inspiring role models.

Paul Newman

Paul Newman's tremendous movie career spanned over 60 years, leaving us with classics like Butch Cassidy, The Shadow Box, and The Hustler. He was an actor's actor who devoted himself fully to each role and gave the same amount of passion to his life. Newman founded the Newman's Own line of food products with writer A.E. Hotchner in 1982. All proceeds after taxes are donated to charity. As of 2006 more than $250 million has been donated to thousands of charities. Newman also co-founded the Hole in the Wall Gang Camp, a summer camp for seriously ill children, first located in Ashford, Connecticut. The camp has expanded to several locations in the U.S, Ireland, France, and Israel, giving 13,000 children each year a place to have fun and just be kids, free of charge.

Paul fathered Scott, Susan, and Stephanie Kendall with his first wife Jackie Witte. Scott Newman who was also an actor died in 1978 from an accidental drug overdose. Paul started the Scott Newman center for drug abuse and prevention in memory of his son. Paul had three daughters with his second wife, Joanne Woodward, Elinor "Nell" Teresa, Melissa "Lissy" Stewart, and Claire "Clea" Olivia. They lived out of the Hollywood game in Westport Connecticut. Paul was known for his devotion to his wife and family. When asked about infidelity he replied "Why go out for hamburger when you can have steak at home?" Paul grew up in Shaker Heights, Ohio. His Dad Arthur Samuel ran a profitable sporting goods store, and his Mother, Theresa encouraged his early interest in the theater.

Robert Redford

Born in Santa Monica California to Charles Robert Redford, an accountant, and mother Martha Hart, Robert Redford made his way into silver screen stardom via brief careers in baseball and painting. He dazzled audiences with Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid, where he starred alongside pal Paul Newman, The Way We Were and The Sting, and enjoyed number one box office star status. He's used his fame and position to advance numerous environmental causes, and works closely with the Natural Resources Defense Council. Redford also acquired and transformed a ski area in Utah, where he established the Sundance film festival in 1969. The Sundance Institute, named after the outlaw he played in Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid, is dedicated to the support and development of emerging screen writers and directors of vision, and to the national and international exhibition of new independent cinema. Mr. Redford won an Oscar for Best Director for Ordinary People and went on to enjoy success as a director with A River Runs Through It and Quiz Show.

Mr. Redford fathered Shauna, James, and Amy Redford with ex-wife Lola van Wagenen. His oldest son Scott died from Sudden Infant Death Syndrome.

Warren Buffet

Ranked by Forbes as the second richest human on Earth with an estimated net worth of approximately thirty-seven billion dollars, Warren Buffet, born August 30, 1930 to Howard Buffett in Omaha Nebraska, is one of the most successful investors in history. He filed his first tax return at age 13, deducting his bicycle and watch as a $35 work expense for his job as a newspaper delivery boy.

Mr. Buffett has pledged to give away 85% of his fortune to the Gates Foundation. In June 2006 Buffett gave approximately 10 million Berkshire Hathaway Class B shares to the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation making it the largest charitable donation in history, and Buffett a leader of the philanthrocapitalism revolution.

Buffett married Susan Thompson in 1952. They had three children, Susie, Howard and Peter. His children will not inherit a significant amount of his wealth. Buffett commented, "I want to give my kids just enough so that they would feel that they could do anything, but not so much that they would feel like doing nothing." Buffett told the NY Times, "I don't believe in dynastic wealth," calling those who grow up in wealthy circumstances "members of the lucky sperm club."

Brad Pitt

Hollywood's favorite leading man, Brad Pitt was born in Shawnee Oklahoma to Jane Etta Hillhouse, a high school counselor, and William Alvin Pitt, a truck company owner. He stole the show in Thelma and Louise and steamrolled into a powerhouse career with hits like Meet Joe Black, Fight Club and the Ocean's flicks. Brad Pitt continues to knock it out of the park.

Brad along with mega star wife Angelina Jolie make as much of a splash with their humanitarian efforts as they do on screen. They recently gave $1 million to the U.N. refugee agency, providing aid to hundreds of thousands uprooted by violence in Pakistan. They support the ONE Campaign, aimed to fight AIDS and poverty in Third World countries. Pitt created the Make it Right Foundation which gathered a group of housing professionals in New Orleans after Hurricane Katrina, with the object of financing and constructing 150 new houses in New Orleans' Ninth Ward. Pitt and Jolie's combined philanthropic efforts have brought awareness to many important issues and causes around the world.

Maddox, Zahara, Shiloh, Pax, Knox, Leon and Vivienne Marcheline call Brad Pit Daddy. I hope I didn't leave any of them out!

Happy Fathers Day to all you Fathers out there. Being a good Dad is a great service to your children and everyone they come into contact with for their entire lives.