Monday, September 29, 2008

Farewell, Paul, and thanks

Growing up in Indianapolis, Indiana, I was first aware of Paul Newman as one of the celebrities who often showed up for the Indianapolis 500, along with James Garner, Florence Henderson, Jim Nabors, and native son Steve McQueen. I didn’t actually see Paul Newman in a movie until I was in my late teens. That movie was The Sting, which remains one of my favorite movies.

I always liked Paul Newman, even before seeing any of his movies. He had an easy charm to him, and his beautiful eyes always seemed to have a wink hidden in one corner, as if to assure people that they shouldn’t take anything he did too seriously -- even when he undertook such brave acting roles as Cool Hand Luke. Whenever I heard Mom and her female friends get into one of those debates about who was more attractive, Newman or frequent co-star Robert Redford, I always thought the women who chose Redford were out of their minds. Newman, to me, was far more ruggedly handsome, and his characters always appeared, well, smarter than Redford’s characters. That air of intelligence is probably what made Newman so believable as the smooth con man in movies like The Sting and The Hustler.

As a comic book reader, I can’t say I was disappointed when I first learned that artist Gil Kane originally based his design of Hal (Green Lantern) Jordan on Paul Newman. (And Carol Ferris was based on Elizabeth Taylor. Kane must have been a fan of the movie Cat on a Hot Tin Roof.) I can easily see the young Paul Newman in Kane’s early drawings of Hal Jordan.

These days, most people probably know Paul Newman best from the rows of “Newman’s Own” salad dressing at neighborhood supermarkets. Given that a big chunk of the money earned by that salad dressing goes to charity, I have to state that Newman certainly could have left behind much worse legacies. Besides, it’s darned good salad dressing.

Actor, entrepreneur, car racing enthusiast ... Paul Newman was all these and more, and it was a heck of a lot of fun to be part of his audience. Farewell, Paul, and thanks.


SallyP said...


I really liked Paul Newman. Living in Connecticut, we were fortunate enough to meet him, when we used to go up to Lime Rock Park, where he used to race. He was a little on the short side, but those blue eyes were amazing. And he was just plain NICE!

Not to mention being a goshdarned good actor, business man and racer, as you said.

Tomfoolery said...

I have never seen a Paul Newman film and I feel sort of silly in saying that I feel like watching one now.
I hate it when someone has to die to be discovered.
(I'm not saying that in the sense of being famous because of course he was. In the sense that you find out about somebody already famous only when you hear about their death on the news).

that makes little sense. Forgive me I've been ill :-)

Just to add, he was certainly one of the best celebrities. A role model to all those other crazy celebrited with more money than sense. Newman was obvious proof that you can be rich, but also realise that money can be spent in more useful ways than flying one's cowboy hat home from Italy (you know who you are, Bono, you crazy idiot).

I hate Bono.

I want to see Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid very badly.

Sea_of_Green said...

Butch and Sundance is good, though the ending is a bit depressing.

But, YES, Paul Newman was a class act, every step of the way. :-)