Is it just me or is Paul Newman just a top guy? Yesterday I read a small article saying he had decided to call time on his acting career because at the age of 82 he was no longer able to remember his lines that well and could no longer act with confidence. How many others have been so honest about their declining abilities? The guys’s work has slowed but in recent times he did a voice-over for the film Cars and had a significant role in The Road to Perdition. So he could still earn, I’m assuming, $millions if he felt like it but has put that all behind him now. Yet he’ll remain active focusing on the things that matter more to him now – an organic restaurant in Connecticut and get this, a network of camps for critically ill kids. I know the guys loaded but to me he just oozes class.
I think he’s only ever won one Oscar for his work (ironically when he didn’t turn up) – I think he was considered lightweight by classic Hollywood standards. Maybe they gave him one of those honorary ones. But I’d have to put Cool Hand Luke in my top 10 movies of all time and Butch and Sundance in there too probably. I’ve watched them both numerous times but I never tire of seeing either. I didn’t realise until a couple of years ago that C H Luke was an allegorical reference to Christ and his disciples. I don’t know which part of the scriptures they lifted the boiled egg sequence from but it was typical of Newman to go through that experinence for real and to set a Guinness world record for egg-eating in the process.
And when every tuppeny-ha’penny actor/actress brings out their ‘distinctive’ line in clothing or cosmetics or accessories in an attempt to establish their unique brand, it’s reassuring to know that Newman did it his way 25 years ago by merchandising his own line in ….salad dressing. And, because it was real and not a contrived marketing arrangement with some giant food company, it became phenomenally successful. Newman-like as ever, he donated the profits to a range of charitable causes. Something like $100m has been raised by him to date.
One of the best-looking guys in the world, he’s been married to Joanne Woodward since 1958. And like that other guy with classic good looks, Steve McQueen, he’s had a life-long fascination with fast cars. His garage in Connecticut must be an aladdin’s cave for blokes. Some guys have all the luck eh? Not quite – his only son was killed by drug abuse many years ago and his Foundation has continued its work to help those in similar danger ever since.
Do I like this guy? You betcha. It’s as if the final words in his best film could have been written for Newman himself,
‘He was smiling. That’s right. You know that, that Luke smile of his…..Oh Luke. He was some boy. Cool hand Luke. Hell he’s a natural born world-shaker.’