Amid the rubble of the unconstitutional Wall Street bailout and the lackluster debate over the weekend a sad occurrence was noted, the death of Paul Newman. The man who breathed life into several of the most iconic screen heroes and anti-heroes passed away at the age of eighty three. In a life that spanned the arts, sports, politics and philanthropy he went from James Dean runner-up to the coolest guy on the planet.
He made several of what were arguably the greatest movies ever made including “The Hustler” and “Cool Hand Luke” which are in my personal top five. He got nominated more times than Harold Stassen but in an odd tribute to his career got his only Oscar of “The Color of Money” which might make a top ten list of the worst sequels ever made.
He was reported to be a down to earth guy but what else would you expect from a kid from Shaker Heights, Ohio. A veteran of World War II his life is a lesson in perseverance. Seen early in his movie career as a Brando wanna-be or James Dean imitator he lost several roles which would have made him a star in the early going. He hung tough to compile a multi-faceted life which far eclipsed cult hero Dean and the bizarre later life antics of Brando.
He donated what has been reported to be between 170 and 250 million dollars to charity through his “Newman’s Own” brands. Married for over fifty years to his second wife he defied any categorization on and off the screen. So pop the top off a long neck beer, have a boiled egg and shoot a game of nine ball in tribute as we send off the coolest guy on the planet.