ONE OF THE GOOD GUYS
28 September 2008
I first heard the news on Twitter. Within seconds, it was all over the internet, and, within half an hour, a special report on TV: Paul Newman had died.
Legends of the silver screen are a dying breed. Today's stars have not come through any sort of studio system and I doubt that 40 years from now we are going to be speaking of Britney Spears with the same reverence that people are speaking of Newman today.
I wasn't a fan of Newman's. I wasn't not a fan of his. He was an actor whose performances I always enjoyed. I never really noticed when he began to make fewer and fewer movies. I never paid attention to whether he won an Oscar or not (finally did forThe Color of Money).
I have a handful of movies of his that pop into mind when I think of him -- Butch Cassidy and The Sting, of course. Exodus. Cat on a Hot Tin Roof. The Hustler. I probably saw more, but those are the ones I remember.
Mostly when I think of Newman, the actor, I remember those blue, blue eyes.
But more, what I think of when I think of Paul Newman is how he used his celebrity to make a difference in the world.
The joke that grew like topsy was his Newman's Own brand of food products, which has now raised millions of dollars for charitable causes. When I'm buying spaghetti sauce or salad dressing, unless there's a "can't pass it up" sale on, I always choose Newman's Own -- the stuff tastes good and it makes me feel good knowing that the money I pay is going to charity.
His "Hole in the Wall Camps" gave children with life-threatening illnesses a chance to have an experience that took them away from their health problems and be "normal" with other kids just like them.
From a tribute to Newman, "His vision helped found the first Hole in the Wall Camp in 1988, and has since grown into the worlds largest family of camps for children with serious medical illnesses, operating in Connecticut, New York, Florida, California, North Carolina, Ireland, Italy, Hungary, France, the United Kingdom and regions in Africa and Asia. Paul's kindness and generosity has touched more than 135,000 children and it was Pauls dream that the camps continue to thrive, providing a place filled of warmth, compassion, laughter and most of all acceptance. Pauls liveliness, energy and dedication will be missed by all who knew him, worked with him and who were touched by his kindness."
In these days we see so many celebrities misbehaving, making headlines for all sorts of things. Paul Newman didn't grab the headlines for his charitable work, he just went and did it quietly, yet he changed a part of the world with his work, and the work that he began will live long after him.
Much more valuable, than a shelf full of Oscars.
He was one of the good guys and will be missed.
Paul Newman's goodbye video
MILES TO NOWHERE: 72 miles