Aaron Edward Hotchner
We are deeply saddened by the loss of our friend and Newman’s Own co-founder A.E. Hotchner, who passed away on February 15 at the age of 102. “Hotch,” as he was known to all, displayed tremendous foresight and tenacity in helping Paul Newman launch Newman’s Own in 1982. Together they developed the business into a successful philanthropic enterprise that continues today.
Hotch helped Paul navigate their entrepreneurial venture, disregarding conventional wisdom and the advice of experts. With Paul’s recipes and taste for good food, they often relied on instinct and luck to introduce and market new products. Never taking themselves too seriously, there was always a bit of humor and “creative chaos” baked into everything they did. Hotch wrote or co-wrote most of the Legends that appear on product labels.
When Paul wanted to build a camp for children battling serious illness, Hotch helped him realize that dream. The Hole in the Wall Gang Camp in Ashford, Connecticut, opened its doors in 1988. More camps followed, and today the SeriousFun Children’s Network, with 30 camps and programs around the world, has delivered more than one million experiences to children and their family members from more than 50 countries since the first camp opened.
Hotch was born and raised in St. Louis, where he studied at Washington University and received his law degree. After practicing law for two years and serving in the Air Force for four, he settled in New York City. Turning to freelance writing, he contributed more than 300 articles and short stories to such publications as Esquire, Saturday Evening Post, The New York Times, and Reader's Digest.
He wrote many distinguished teleplays in the 1950s and ‘60s, including prize-winning adaptations of Ernest Hemingway's The Snows of Kilimanjaro, The Killers, and The Fifth Column. Hotch wrote about his long friendship with Hemingway in the acclaimed Papa Hemingway and followed up years later with Hemingway in Love. Two of Hotch's novels, The Man Who Lived at the Ritz and Looking for Miracles, were turned into TV movies. His memoir of his St. Louis boyhood, King of the Hill, was made into a film directed by Steven Soderbergh. He published The Amazing Adventures of Aaron Broom in July 2018, just weeks after he turned 101. It’s a heartwarming story about an amateur detective set in Depression-era St. Louis. Hotch’s most recent work was an adaptation of Hemingway’s book, The Old Man and the Sea, into a play, which he worked on with his son, Tim Hotchner. It premiered in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, in February 2019.
Theatre highlights include two Broadway shows written by Hotch: The White House, starring Helen Hayes, and Welcome to the Club, a musical comedy written with composer Cy Coleman.
Although Hotch achieved great success as a writer, his enduring legacy may very well be Newman’s Own. The company continues to operate as a philanthropic enterprise, donating all after-tax profits and royalties to charity. More than $550 million has been donated to charity since 1982, supporting thousands of organizations around the world and helping millions of people.
We’ll miss his Hotch, but his legacy will continue and we will forever have fond memories his keen wit, sharp memory, generosity, love of life, grand ideas, and above all, friendship.