Saturday, September 27, 2008

RIP Paul Newman, 1925 - 2008

There are have been many celebrity losses over the tenure of the HoB, many of which implore me to commit to this medium my thoughts and feelings and a desire to make official my remembrance of him or her.

In this case, with a man like Paul Newman, I'm not sure where to begin. As an actor, he was not only excellent but manifested his roles and made them, and himself in the process, icons of Americana and of Hollywood. His roles in Butch Cassidy and The Sundance Kid, The Hustler, Cool Hand Luke, Slap Shot and The Sting are among the best Hollywood -- or the world of movies -- has and will ever see. But those are just five examples of who he was as an actor.

To demonstrate the type of man he was, all one would need to examine was his behavior off the screen. Whereas today's celebrities crave the spotlight and PR, Paul Newman avoided it. He was so meticulous in guarding his private life that he rarely appeared in anything outside his own films. Moreover, when he was finally awarded an academy award -- for his eighth nomination, as Best Actor as Eddie Felson in The Color of Money -- he wasn't even in attendance.

Beyond modesty, he took his celebrity and lived his life. His love of racing -- which he acquired after doing a film entitled "Winning" -- led him to get involved in racing. Rolex's Daytona chronograph was christened as the Paul Newman model.

But his real passion was helping people. When his son died of an accidental drug overdose in 1978, he created the Scott Newman Center for drug abuse prevention. Ten years later, he established the Hole In The Wall Gang Camp, which allowed children with cancer and blood-related illnesses to enjoy a typical camp experience, without cost to their families.

All of these were charitable contributions; but thereafter, he established Newman's Own, a food corporation that was completely non-profit. To date, the company has donated over $200 million to various charities and entities in need of financial assistance.

And to think, all he ever wanted to do was help people without having to endure the spotlight. If he is somewhere seeing all this in his honor, I'm sure he'd be a bit uncomfortable, as he was as modest a person as any of us will ever know. I never met him, but he was one of the few celebrities with whom I wish I could have sat with for an hour or two just to get a better perspective on the world through his eyes.

As for his modesty, because he was a great actor and a better man, he -- wherever he is -- will have to accept the fact that his actions and the way he conducted himself touched so many lives and -- without exaggerating and without question -- made the world a better place.

RIP, Fast Eddie. We'll Miss You.

1 comment:

katie said...

It's been in the news for a while. I wasn't sure if it was true. But indeed it is. He will be missed.