September 27 2008

R.I.P. Paul Newman

What could any person say about Paul Newman that hasn’t been said a thousand times by millions of others?

While Mr. Newman could have traded on his famous good looks for his entire career, he didn’t.  Instead he became a master of his craft and provided us with more memorable roles than some armies of actors could ever hope to do.  While you can certainly point to his well-known roles in films such as The HustlerHud, Cool Hand LukeButch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid, The Color of Money and on and on and on, one of my personal favorites is one that never got much coverage, and that was Nobody’s Fool.

I’m not sure why Nobody’s Fool never got much mention, it may have been because it was a story that centered heavily on people facing their own mortality, but it is one of my most recommended films to friends and family.  A great performance by Newman (of course), Jessica Tandy in her last role and Bruce Willis (who took scale pay so he could have the opportunity to work with Newman), make for a wonderful little gem of a film.  Seriously, rent it, buy it (you can usually find it pretty cheap), but do yourself the favor of checking it out.

Beyond his acting, though, it was his immense generosity that always amazed me.  Most people have seen the Newmans Own brand of food items in the grocery store, but it always amazes me how many people don’t know the story behind it.  Every penny of profit made from the line of salad dressings, lemonade, popcorn and more goes to charity.  In the 25 years the brand has been around, it has donated over $250 million dollars to various charities around the world.  This also included the Hole in the Wall Camps (named for the Hole in the Wall Gang from the story of Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid) which were summer camps set up for kids with serious health problems that allowed them to attend totally free of charge.

I will certainly miss Mr. Newman not only for his contributions to the cinema, but also for all of the charity work he did over the years.  Rest in peace, Mr. Newman.

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