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Saturday, September 27, 2008

The Death of Cool: Paul Newman 1925 - 2008



If you haven't heard the tragic news by now, Paul Leonard Newman passed away on September 25th, 2008 - a day which will be a little bit sadder for years to come. His death arose from issues stemming from his lung cancer, a legacy of his earlier chain smoking years. He was survived by his 5 daughters, his older brother Arther, and his wife of over 50 years Joanne.

First off, lets just get this out on the table: has there ever been anyone as magnanimous and cool as Paul Newman? Nope.

Rarely does a person come along who redefines the meaning behind the family of adjectives to which words such as "cool" and "awesome" belong.

Rarely does a person's scope of cool extend so far beyond the pale that the only way to justify writing his obituary is by paying homage to him through a variety of foods associated with his awesomeness - in this case, a medium well done hamburger, a Heineken and a side salad garnished with Newman's Own Balsamic Vinaigrette.

And rarely does a human come along who is really really really ridiculously good looking until the day they die.

Paul Newman was just such a rare piece of man. As I sit here, it truly is difficult for me to not tear up knowing that the world is without him, because we have all lost an enigmatic actor, a disgustingly generous philanthropist and a man whose personal character was a model for all around him.

The greatest aspect of Paul was his refusal to participate in what he referred to as the 'rubbish' of Hollywood celebrity. Despite the fact that he was awarded or nominated for nearly 20 Golden Globes or Academy Awards. Despite the fact that he got second place in the prestigious Le Mans auto race and then proceeded to found and fund one of the most successful Indy Car racing teams in history. Despite the fact that he had flawless good looks that didn't seem to really change with age, Paul never gave in to the idiosyncratic behavior that so many other iconic actors have succumbed to over the years. He instead chose to pursue his personal interests and charitable venues as far away from Hollywood as he could get - on the East Coast. As he is famously quoted saying about Hollywood, it was "too close to the cake."

From the early days of his career on Paul was turning heads. In fact, his very first film role was initially intended for James Dean, who died in a car accident before filming began and (rather tragically) opened the door for Hollywood's next main man to step up to the plate.

Many of Paul's performances may be amongst the greatest pieces of acting that Hollywood Cinema has seen since the industry's creation. He has given life to such legendary characters as Cool Hand Luke, Butch Cassidy, Fast Eddie Felson, Basil (haha), Rocky Graziano, Reggie Dunlop and my personal favorite Henry Gondorff (who is responsible for the title quote).

It is a testament to Paul's likablility and excellence as an actor that he was able to survive the difficult transitions that disrupted Hollywood between the 50's and 60's, and even thrive. His appeal as an actor never lost its steam from generation to generation, eclispsing time, age and cultural changes, all the way up to as recently as Road to Perdition in 2002 and Cars in 2006.

Throughout his career in Hollywood, Paul worked with some of the most famous directors and actors in the industry; John Huston, Robert Redford, Tom Hanks, Martin Scorsese, James Dean, George Roy Hill, Robert Shaw and fellow badass-awesome-betterlookingthanyou actor Daniel Craig.


Here are some of the other facts about Paul that make him the best ever.

He has his own holiday which is celebrated in many parts of the United States called "Newman Day".

After making the film Silver Chalice Paul was so appalled that he was in what he percieved to be a very low quality film that he took out an ad in Vanity Fair apologizing to the general public and begging them to not go and see it.

When he finally got his Oscar for Best Actor (after nearly 40 films!) he said in response "I'm thrilled. I'm on a roll now, and maybe now I can get a job."

His line of salad dressings is the greatest thing to be put on the shelves at Costco ever (and now they make grape juice. game over Welch's)

One of his favorite achievements in his lifetime was being placed on President Richard Nixon's infamous 'Enemies List'. He was even prouder of the placing (#19 babay)

He is the only person to ever win a medal in the world famous LeMans auto race AND win an Oscar.

He is so awesome that he recieved a lifetime achievement honorary Oscar for his dedication and contributions to the world of film.

His old fraternity Phi Kappa Tau changed their national philanthropy to honor Newman and his role in Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid - "Hole in the Wall"

He was the main character in Slap Shot. Win.

And the my favorite statement made by him (outside of a movie). When asked about possibly cheating on his wife or sleeping around he replied, "Why go out for hamburger when I have steak at home?" PIMP.


To conclude, Paul Newman was one of the greatest men who ever lived. He was the perfect example of a person who knew what he wanted in his life and made it happen. But more importantly, he was a perfect example of a person who touched every life he came into contact with. The same is said many times a day in obituaries for men and women all over the world, yet it has never been truer than with Paul. Through his example of a celebrity that was not a celebrity, his philanthropist mentality and his endless acts of humanitarianism Paul made more of his life than the next person could hope to do in three lifetimes, and he had still had some to spare.

Farewell Paul, you will be missed forever.

"There is a point where feelings go beyond words. I have lost a real friend. My life — and this country — is better for his being in it." — Robert Redford.

"I was blessed to have know him. The world is better because of him. Sometimes God makes perfect people and Paul Newman was one of them." — Sally Field.

3 comments:

Wilder Shaw said...

That was fantastic. He was too incredible for words.

Ezra Edmond said...

Yes I totally agree. Nicely done. Paul Newman was a pretty epic fellow indeed.

Anonymous said...

Great post, terrible choice of title.

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