I was very sad to hear of the passing of actor/director and legend Paul Newman. I honestly loved this man. I am not ashamed to say that I loved his voice and his eyes and his body and his very cool walk, and his acting and his daring and his intellect and especially his heart.
Paul Newman was much more than a gorgeous Hollywood heartthrob. Like Cary Grant, Paul was an artist who didn't want to rely on his good looks. Grant didn't allow his heartthrob status keep him from from playing comedy and being as silly as can be. Paul enjoyed playing the anti-hero, jerk or loser who was not at all the good guy leading man and who often got his face rearranged by some character's punches.
He won an Oscar for Color of Money in 1986 and was nominated a total of 10 times from 1956 to the 2002 nom for Road to Perdition. Paul won an honorary Oscar in 1986 "in recognition of his many and memorable compelling screen performances and for his personal integrity and dedication to his craft." In 1994, he won a third Oscar, the Jean Hersholt Humanitarian Award, for his charitable work.
Newman started in movies in "The Silver Chalice," a 1954 costume film he so despised that he took out an ad in Variety to apologize. OMG that is too funny. I love that.
By 1958, he had won the best actor award at the Cannes Film Festival for the shiftless, fast talking Ben Quick in "The Long Hot Summer." This is one of my favorites, starring Paul and his wife and fellow Oscar winner, Joanne Woodward. Also in 1958 Paul starred with Elizabeth Taylor, Jack Carson, and Burl Ives, in my favorite movie Cat on a Hot Tin Roof. The scenes in the basement with Ives as the southern tycoon "Big Daddy" and Newman as his son "Brick" the struggling fallen athlete, get me every single time. And I challenge you to find a scene sexier than Brick telling "Maggie the Cat" (Elizabeth Taylor) to "lock the door." This was movie making, story telling and acting at it's very finest.
While he didn't capitalize on his good looks for roles, Paul did use his celebrity to raise millions for charity. In 1980 Paul, who was said to be always mischievous and up to something, and his friend and neighbor A. E. Hotchner made a big batch of salad dressing, filled bottles and gave it away for Christmas gifts as a lark. In 1982 they founded Newman's Own Food Company. Now of course you can see Newman's handsome face, often in funny costumes on various delicious salad dressings, popcorn and spaghetti sauce labels on grocery shelves. All profits go to charity. All profits. How 'bout that!
In 1988, Paul and Mr. Hotchner founded a different sort of enterprise: the Hole in the Wall Gang Camp in Ashford, Conn.,(named after the outlaw gang in "Butch Cassidy") a free camp for children with cancer and other life-threatening diseases. One camp grew into other camps, nationally and globally. Newman's Own has grown into a powerful and lasting expression of Paul Newman's generosity. The Company has generated over $250 million in proceeds that have been donated by Paul Newman and the Newman's Own Foundation to thousands of charities worldwide.
“Paul was an unadorned man. He was simple and direct and honest and off-center and mischievous, and romantic and very handsome. All of these qualities became the generating force behind him.” He added: “He was the same man in 2008 that he was in 1956 — unchanged, despite all the honors and the movie stardom, not a whisper of a change. And that’s something, the constancy of the man.” A. E Hotchner, friend of 50 years.
Paul and his wife actress Joanne Woodward, have also been civil rights activists since the 1950's. Paul and Joanne have put their feet, money and voices where their convictions are including GLBT rights, anti-war efforts, and backing and campaigning for progressive candidates. When Paul Newman made President Nixon's enemies list he was thrilled and proud.
Paul Newman did not live in Hollywood. He called the glitzy, fast paced movie star life, "rubbish". He and Joanne were married in 1958 and lived in a renovated farmhouse in Westport, Connecticut. He died there surrounded by Joanne and his five daughters.
Paul and Joanne
"Our father was a rare symbol of selfless humility, the last to acknowledge what he was doing was special," his daughters said in a written statement. "Intensely private, he quietly succeeded beyond measure in impacting the lives of so many with his generosity." Statement from Paul Newman's five daughters.
"There is a point where feelings go beyond words," actor Robert Redford said Saturday. "I have lost a real friend. My life — and this country — is better for his being in it."
This is a man who wisely used his gifts and his life. He was truly a Movie Star who found a richness of life far away from the movie star lifestyle.
A few of my favorite Paul Newman movies:
Long Hot Summer 1958.......Cat on a Hot Tin Roof 1958
Hud 1963 Hombre 1967...... Cool hand Luke 1967
Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid 1969
The Sting 1973 ............Towering Inferno 1974
The Verdict 1982 ..........Color of Money 1986