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Goodbye to the Golden Age of Hollywood

September 29, 2008

It wouldn’t be fitting not to pay tribute to one of Hollywood’s greats and an ‘adrenaline junkie’ himself – Paul Newman.

He was the all-time action hero who for decades has personified cool, lived the same daredevil, risk-taking life off screen that he enacted on screen and had the enigmatic quality that gives a leading man star quality.

He will be remembered for his many movies: The Hustler, Sweet Bird of Youth, Cool Hand Luke and the most famous buddy film in history, Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid. He also acted in Cat on a Hot Tin Roof with Elizabeth Taylor, Hud, Nobody’s Fool, The Verdict, The Colour of Money, A Long hot Summer with Joanna Woodward, The Sting … to name but a few.

Paul Newman and Joanna Woodward

It’s not easy for screen mega-stars to grow old gracefully and stay on top at the same time, but Paul Newman recognised the passage of time and chose his roles carefully. Thus he’s the only ‘pretty-boy’ screen-god to have retained the absolute respect of critics and public alike.

Thanks to gazzella59 for this wonderful picture portfolio.

He retired form acting on 25 May, 2007. He told a US broadcaster at ABC that he couldn’t continue acting at the level he wanted to. “You start to lose your memory, you start to lose your confidence, you start to lose your invention. So I think that’s pretty much a closed book for me.”

The mesmeric appeal of his sapphire eyes were a source of frustration to him. He once famously said, “To work as hard as I have, to accomplish what I have accomplished, and than have some yo-yo come up to you and bark: ‘Take off those dark glasses and let’s have a look at those blue eyes’… it’s really discouraging.”

He loved making movies, but perhaps he loved motor racing even more. “Nothing can take its place,” he said recently. “To enjoy the sensation of driving and racing, and to be able to see the effect of it in your mirrors, that extra 10 feet you built up coming out of a particular corner. You know, that’s the kick in the ass. That, my friend, is living.” As late as last year, he was still careering around the racetrack at 180mph.

And he was deeply committed to his charity work. He co-founded Newman’s Own, the food company from which he donated all post-tax profits and royalties to charity. As of May 2007, these donations had exceeded US$220 million. When asked why he gave so much to charity his response was , “you can only have so many suits in a closet.”

I have read many of the tributes to him, but this one sums him up I think:

“Though he was, in my opinion, the single most beautiful man to ever grace the silver screen, he was much, much more than a pretty face. Long before the likes of Brad Pitt and Johnny Depp he broke free of the shackles of being a matinee idol to take on edgy, interesting roles, Newman was flexing his acting muscles and subverting his own image in excellent films like The Verdict. His last on-screen film performance in 2002’s Road To Perdition was an excellent and poignant end to an astonishing career, while his appearance in the Coen Brothers’ underrated The Hudsucker Proxy is a reminder that he was also a great, though under-used, comic actor. He will be sorely missed.”

and this one:

“Weep not for Paul Newman but celebrate his life, both in films and in the lavish generosity of his charity work. A truly remarkable man who positively influenced all the lives he touched either through his films, through his motor racing or his charities. He will always be remembered and for all the right reasons.”

He died on 26th September, 2008, aged 83, surrounded by his family and close friends. Our deepest condolences go to his wife of 50 years, Joanna Woodward, and his family.

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One comment

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