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So Long, Butch Cassidy September 29, 2008

Posted by Kate Ryan in popular culture.
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Believe it or not, today I am NOT writing on politics.  I want to write about Paul Newman.  There was something about his passing this weekend that really touched me.  Paul Newman was one of those guys I just fantasized I’d have a chance to meet someday.  The man was COOL.

I got to know Paul through Turner Classic Movies, American Movie Classics, and various movie nights on PBS.  Before I moved out of my parent’s house, my mother and I used to watch old movies on the weekend (how spinster-ish!) and that’s where I saw ALL the classics.  “The Hustler”.  “Cool Hand Luke”.  “Hud”.  “Cat on a Hot Tin Roof”.  So many great movies and roles.    I think the first movie I actually remember seeing Paul in at a theater was “The Towering Inferno” – not exactly Academy Award material.

That was always something that bothered me about Hollywood, the movie business, etc.  Paul Newman starred in all these really fantastic movie and never won an Oscar until “The Color of Money”, in 1986.  I didn’t even particularly like that movie – but he should have won many times earlier.  Who knows why he never one for his greatest and most electrifying roles –  but I always felt that the Academy threw him that Oscar in ’87 as payback for dissing him for years.  And he also should have won Best Supporting Actor for “The Road to Perdition” with Tom Hanks in 2002.  Oh, well.

Funny thing, though, I don’t think Paul Newman himself lost much sleep over not winning awards.  I just recently read that Newman’s Own has given away more than a quarter of a billion dollars to charity.  His Scott Newman center has helped countless with addiction, his Hole-in-the-Wall camps have helped thousands of sick children, and has donated to several scholarships and contests promoting the first amendment.  He lived a quiet life in Connecticut away from the Hollywood spotlight and didn’t do anything for self-aggrandizement.  Wow.  Stuff like that really impresses me.  When a person like that dies, we are left so much poorer.  Paul Newman was a real hero in our lifetime.  He will be missed.

Plus, he was REALLY cool!

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