Saturday, September 27, 2008

Paul Newman's own life lesson

Paul Newman died last night. I rarely write about celebrities because I find the whole star worship thing to be particularly shallow. Watch Entertainment Tonight or TMZ for 30 seconds and you stand a better than even chance of losing enough brain matter to scare you back to public broadcasting for the rest of your life.

But I'll make an exception here because Mr. Newman wasn't a typical celebrity. Sure, he could have rested on his considerable laurels as a gifted actor and agent provocateur in the entertainment industry. But there was so much more to him than the yellow journalism headlines in the supermarket aisle ever suggested.

Trailblazing philanthropist. Uber devoted husband to the love of his life, Joanne Woodward. Devoted father who managed to find the opportunity in his son's tragic drug-related death. A pedal-to-the-metal car racer who knew how to squeeze the most out of life. I could keep going for a while, as he embodied the spirit of a Renaissance Man.

And that's the thing that set him apart, that made him a role model even to folks who had never seen him onscreen. He lived life well. He followed his own heart. He did the right thing for the right reason.

He was the kind of person I suspect we'd all like to emulate just a little bit in our own lives. He was the kind of person we need to help repair our fractured, shallow world. He's the kind of person who will be missed on so many levels by so many.

Your turn: His legacy. Please discuss.

18 comments:

Thumper said...

While it certainly leaves a bit of a hole in the collective entertainment consciousness, I find it difficult to be especially sad about his passing. The man didn't just live, he LIVED. He lived out loud, with enthusiasm, and with grace.

I think often the sadness that one feels when someone else dies is for the things they didn't get to do, all the things left uncrossed on their lists. I doubt he had much left on his list... he had a heck of a life, and he lived long enough and well enough to do it all.

His was a life to be celebrated, not mourned, I think...

Sara said...

How interesting that when someone mentions his name I don't think of him as an actor. Think I've only seen two films he was in - and only because I liked his co-star - Robert Redford.

I never considered him to be "Hollywood" - more often than not I would hear that he was at his CT home. I loved the fact that he turned tragedy into something worthwhile when his son died...and that lived a life that wasn't based on all the Hollywood hype.

Wendy said...

This was a thoughtful, well-written post. I also don't get involved in the lives of the Stars for the reasons you mentioned.
We will all miss Paul Newman - for being a good man, a humanitarian, and a decent human being.

Hey it's Amy Shipp said...

I was sad to hear of his passing. And was happy to read your fine tribute. His life was a legacy on how to live... (have you seen "Message in a Bottle" 1999?) He cracked me up in that one! I imagine him a lot like that in 'real life' -Plus the story is so romantic, I could watch it again & again...

Diane said...

That was really nice reading!

Thank you - I am feeling not so sad now as when I first heard.

Gordon said...

Small fact it took until the Color of Money for him to get an Oscar, yet he'd been in films for years.
Sometimes you don't even realise Paul Newman was in a film as he might have had such a small part or as he was good at blended into the fabric of the film so you were left wondering.
It's the fact also that he didn't do "Hollywood", come on he stayed in Colorado. All actors today should take a look a good look at how he lived and try in someway to emulate it. The fact he could have had millions in the bank from his own cookery range but nope all the profits go to the charity he set up.
So raise a glass to the man, Slainte Mhath Mr Newman.

Lynda said...

What a nice remembrance. I can't choose a favorite movie...perhaps Cool Hand Luke. But, as you mentioned, it was his commitment - to his wife, family, and making the world a better place that was the most impressive.

kenju said...

He was my favorite actor and he will be missed. Even though he couldn't do much anymore (in movies), just knowing he is no longer in the world is making me sad.

ms ralph said...

I was very surprised to find he had died this morning.

Malinda777 said...

Carmi...don't think I'm weird here, I'm not. You were one of my "original" blog buddies, and you were and are an unusual visitor to "my house". You and I stand on quite opposite sides of an isle, but realize truth and good.

I'm of the Paul Newman generation (you are too), but I'm OLDER...DAMN!

You're right...I don't celebrate many celebrities either...but I know this...decent is decent and Paul was decent.

My favorite thing...His love for his wife. I think that's what attracted me to your blog and your life...you LOVE YOUR WIFE and your life. That is priceless!

Blue Eyes...RIP...

Vesper de Vil said...

This is a beautiful blog dedication, Carmi.

Paul Newman was a balanced human being. He was able to live his dream, and also stay devoted to those closest to him, and to those he helped through his charities.

Pinky said...

Those eyes, those beautiful eyes.
Excelent post, Carmi. Acting was only one facet to Mr. Newman. He was obviously a well-rounded man. It's a shame when we allow society to define us by our occupation, or any other single part of what makes us the whole.

The Grocer said...

Hero is a much overused word in the world today but there are few who deserve it more than Newman. Nice tribute.

Beverly said...

I so agree with all the comments that have already been written. I was telling my daughter that the first movie my husband and I went to see after we were married was "The Sting." Those blue eyes have stayed with me ever since.

He will be missed, not for the roles he played, but because of who he was.

Ben and Bennie said...

BTW, his beloved wife is from our hometown (Greenville, SC). She still has family here and they would occasionally visit.

lissa said...

Paul Newman was a celeb I, too, felt was worth memorializing. Just his "real-world-ness" set him apart from the plastic people in Hollywood. The irony of his passing from cancer and his longtime Hole-In-The-Wall-Gang camp for kids with the disease...and his one-woman-man 'tude (the quote being heard a lot is "why would I go out for hamburger when I have steak at home?" in answer to the question about his being a sex symbol and the attention from other women)...he was a man to admire.

And besides...it's the end of an era. It's like when Johnny Carson and George Carlin died - hard to believe they're gone even though they weren't in our sights on a daily basis.

photowannabe said...

As someone commented, its the end of an era. There aren't many celebrities around that have a marriage of over 50 years. I always thought of him as "real people". The work he accomplished from his charities is so commendable.

movie fan said...

it's hard not to admire Paul Newman for putting his money to work in such productive ways