Paul Newman died yesterday of cancer in Westport, Connecticut at 83, leaving behind his wife, his daughters, and to all of us a legacy of a wonderful career on film and in charitable work that will live on.
I’ve been a fan ever since I was a kid, watching movies like Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid, Cool Hand Luke, Hud and The Sting, no doubt mangled, err, edited, for television, on my families’ old black & white console. Paul has,er had, blue eyes?! OK, I have seen most of these movies plenty of times in color since, as well as his most recent ones. Still, blue eyes run in my dad’s family (wait a second, that doesn’t sound right. . .), so they wouldn’t be what impressed me.
Actually one of the things that most impressed me about him (and probably precisely why he was such a good actor) was that Mr. Newman wasn’t full of himself, and wanted to stay as far away from the Hollywood madness as possible, living in Westport, Connecticut, racing cars, and staying married to Joanne Woodward, his wife of 50 years, who’s also academy award winning career he supported. About his faithfulness to Joanne, Paul once said (in a Playboy interview, not less): “I have steak at home; why go out for hamburger?”.
That’s not all though. There was Paul’s generosity and the charities he set up. The Newman’s Own packages always made me smile. Here’s a major movie star going around being photographed with a much younger woman, young enough to be his daughter; and she really is his daughter! Pa and Nell Newman. My favorites are the Fig Newmans.
All the profits go to charity, so I always feel good about it. I never really looked into what charities they went to, until yesterday, and I was really impressed.
I was especially impressed by his Hole in the Wall Camps to let children with serious illnesses get outdoors to play and laugh and be children again.
What a legacy to leave behind!
So, now Paul, too, has gone through that “hole in the wall,” as one boy described it to his mother. Raising some more hell (though hopefully not enough to get in any real trouble)!