Monday, September 29, 2008

Good Bye Blue Eyes

Paul Newman, one of the greatest film legends of the 20th century, passed away this last Friday (September 26th, 2008) due to cancer. He was 83. While Paul Newman will always be remembered by the enormous footprint he left on the film industry, what always was remarkable to me was not his ability as an actor, but the greatness of his character. 

Paul Newman was best known as the likable rebel in films like Cool Hand Luke, Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid, Slapshot, Hud, and The Verdict. His trademarks being his cool blue eyes, his steely nerve, and magnetic charisma onscreen. His acting abilities were oft challenged due to his good looks, but these doubts were silenced when he won the Oscar for "Best Actor" for his performance in The Color of Money, along with five solid nominations for the same category. But his likeliness to a typical Hollywood actor ended there. 

Paul Newman was a philanthropist. A common Holiday tradition of making salad dressing for his friends and family turned into a charitable enterprise. He formed "Newman's Own". A food company that sold salsa's, salad dressing, lemonade, pasta sauce, and wine, giving all of the profits to charity. The recorded donations as of 2006 were recorded at $200 million. He began a summer camp dedicated to kids with cancer, it was called "Hole in the Wall Gang", named after a gang of the same name in his film Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid. The camp even included cowboy hats so that the children with chemotherapy could hide their bald heads. He donated $10 million to his alma matter Kenyon College to help fund a scholarship. He was also one of the founders of the CECP (Committee Encouraging Corporate Philanthropy). A group made up of CEOs and other corporate chairpersons dedicated to encourage the philanthropic donation of monies by large companies. After his son Scott passed away due to drug overdose he started the "Scott Newman Center", aimed at preventing drug and alcohol addiction. 

As a husband he stood loyally by his wife for over 40 years. As a man in the tumultuous world of Hollywood this stands a testament to his character. When asked about fidelity inside a marriage by Playboy, Paul Newman once quipped, "Why go out for a hamburger when you have steak at home?" 

Paul Newman was also a motor enthusiast. Competing and winning many auto-races. 

At the age of 83 Paul Newman has lived harder, and accomplished more than many men or women. There are many men of talent and skill that have blessed the film community, but it is very rare to have a man with the honorable character that Paul Newman possessed bless the entertainment industry, or any industry for that matter. May his example produce more like him. 

“The trick of living is to slip on and off the planet 
with the least fuss you can muster.
 I’m not running for sainthood. 
I just happen to think that in life 
we need to be a little like the farmer, 
who puts back into the soil what he takes out.”

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