Sunday, September 28, 2008

And Speaking of Sexy...We Lost the Man Who Wrote the Book

Paul Newman died yesterday at the age of 83. He had been ill. But like a lot of people, I wasn't ready. It's hard to let go of an icon like that.

Newman was just beautiful. He played good guys, bad guys, sad guys, joyful guys. He worked a really, really long time. I think he still looked good in 2002's "Road to Perdition" opposite Tom Hanks. He was the voice of the Hudson Hornet in last year's Disney hit, Cars. He did anything and everything when it came to movies, but never won an Oscar. From the time I remember first seeing Paul Newman in the movies I think I had a thing for him. Who didn't?
He was kind of a rock solid actor that you could build just about anything around. He apparently was in a lot of stinky movies but didn't get blamed for those. The movies back then could put two people like Paul Newman and Robert Redford (yes, even I have a thing for him) onscreen at the same time and not lose anything.

Paul Newman was a born and bred Northeast Ohioan. He went to Shaker Heights high, just down the street from where I work. He once said that he wasn't running toward acting as much as away from selling sporting goods. He was an Ohio trained actor, at OU and Kenyon (my sister's alma mater). He loved kids. He loved his wife. (He once told Playboy, "I have steak at home. Why go out for hamburger?") His politics got him into trouble with people like Richard Nixon, perhaps one of America's least sexiest people ever. He was a philanthropist. (I am a freak. Someone who has a ton of money and likes to give it away is, to me, sexy. Hell yes, even Bill Gates looks good in this light. You have to admit he has a certain goofball, geek charm...) He did things with his spare time and change to help others. And his salad dressing ain't half-bad.

Paul Newman wasn't just sexy. He was devastatingly handsome in every sense -- mind, body, spirit. There are a few actors, men and women both who are coming up through the ranks who have the potential to take up that heavy mantle, and I hope they can.
Thanks, Paul, for everything you gave.


At September 28, 2008 5:26 PM, Blogger Ipsissimus said...

Have you read Slates' Dahlia Lithwick's obit on him?
It is exactly the way you would want to have lived your life and be remembered. It is a beautiful tribute and I love the lines: "Married to Joanne Woodward, his second wife, for 50 years this winter, Newman always looked at her like something he'd pulled out of a Christmas stocking. He looked at his daughters that way, too. It was like, all these years later, he couldn't quite believe he got to keep them."

Wow, what a man. What a loss to America when we need all the role models we can get.

At September 28, 2008 6:41 PM, Blogger DrDon said...

Yeah, I don't normally have much positive regard for the cult of celebrity but if more celebrities were like Newman, there might actually be a reason to call them "idols." His charity work has done an amazing amount of good and while he certainly enjoyed a lifestyle to envy, he didn't wallow in fame and excess as many celebrities seem to. I wonder what stars of today will be remembered as fondly?

At September 29, 2008 12:44 AM, Blogger Bob said...

Yeah, it was a shock.

A couple months ago, his publicist said he was "doing nicely."
That sounds like Paul Newman. "Just tell 'em I'm doing nicely."

It always seemed to me that he never had to act, he was just "Paul Newman." Does that make sense?

He was terrific in just about any of his films. I liked "Nobody's Fool." Jessica Tandy's last film.

Well done, Paul! Thanks.

At September 29, 2008 6:05 AM, Blogger Mando Mama said...

Last night the kids and I watched Cool Hand Luke. We have about 30 minutes to go. They just don't make movies, or actors, like that anymore.

Ips, what a beautiful quote. What a gift to be loved that way, with a sense of gratitude and delight.

Don, I wonder the same thing. The way actors are churned out of the Disney machine these days, I doubt any of them have the foundation wrought by actors like Newman and others of his day.

You're right, Bob, that sounds like a Newman thing to say. He had a fairly quiet approach to things, didn't he, including all the philanthropy? A good example for us all.


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