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All great men are dying and I don't feel so well myself. 

That's what I thought when I heard Paul Newman had died.  Actually I feel fine.  That last part was just East Tennessee humor.  But I digress.

Paul Newman was one of a handful of celebrities that I truly admired.  He wasn't just a fine actor. 

He's well known for so many great roles, like in Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid, The Sting, etc but I think my favorite role that he played was the alcoholic lawyer in The Verdict.  He didn't win an Oscar for that role but I thought it was his best performance of many.  I identified so much with the different struggles he faced as the lawyer in that movie, not the least of which was the one against himself.  He really nailed that role and I found myself empathizing with him at every step.  I don't think another actor could have played it so well. 

I also liked him in the lesser known Nobody's Fool in which he played a rascal nearing retirement age who suddenly has to face unfamiliar family responsibilities.  And I thought he was great in an even lesser known film Absence of Malice, although he was nominated for an Oscar in that one.  That movie also had what I thought was Sally Field's best performance.  The chemistry between the two of them was great.

Newman lost a son to drugs and while he was deeply affected by that he bounced back with a foundation in the son's name.  Then he began the Newman's Own franchise of foods as a lark and ended up taking it nationwide and making it a charitable concern.  I've liked those salad dressings from day one and still use them to this day. 

And of course Newman had the looks.  I heard this story about Newman this morning on NPR.  Frank Deford, the sportswriter is a resident of Westport, Connecticut as Newman was.  He and his wife once found themselves in a cooking store there where Newman and Newman's daughter happened to be shopping.  When Newman checked out he turned to his daughter who was in another part of the store and said loudly "are you ready to go, honey?"  According to Deford every woman in the shop turned their head immediately toward him, including Deford's wife.  Wishful thinking, indeed.

I saw Paul Newman as a man's man, a humanitarian and despite the cliche, a great American.  I'll miss him.  RIP Mr. Newman.

October 1, 2008 in MOVIES | Permalink


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The Hustler, and Cool Hand Luke were a couple more that I quite liked.

Posted by: Ridge Walker at Oct 2, 2008 4:57:47 PM

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