September 27, 2008


Legendary Actor Paul Newman Dies at Age 83: Paul Newman, superstar who personified cool onscreen, dies at 83 after battling cancer ( (The Associated Press, 9/26/08)

He got his start in theater and on television during the 1950s, and went on to become one of the world's most enduring and popular film stars, a legend held in awe by his peers. He was nominated for Oscars 10 times, winning one regular award and two honorary ones, and had major roles in more than 50 motion pictures, including "Exodus," "Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid," "The Verdict," "The Sting" and "Absence of Malice."

Newman worked with some of the greatest directors of the past half century, from Alfred Hitchcock and John Huston to Robert Altman, Martin Scorsese and the Coen brothers. His co-stars included Elizabeth Taylor, Lauren Bacall, Tom Cruise, Tom Hanks and, most famously, Robert Redford, his sidekick in "Butch Cassidy" and "The Sting."

Like many an artist (see under Jack Nicholson), his greatest role is his most religious turn, with him in the role of Christ. But this has always been a personal favorite:

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Were you the great editor in the sky you'd only change two scenes in his career: he'd answer the phone when Charlotte Rampling calls and you'd cut Raindrops Keep Falling.

-WIKIPEDIA: Paul Newman

Paul Newman Dies at 83 (ALJEAN HARMETZ, September 27, 2008, NY Times)
Paul Newman, one of the last of the great 20th-century movie stars, died Friday at his home near Westport, Conn. He was 83.

The cause was cancer, said Jeff Sanderson of Chasen & Company, Mr. Newman’s publicist.

If Marlon Brando and James Dean defined the defiant American male as a sullen rebel, Paul Newman recreated him as a likable renegade, a strikingly handsome figure of animal high spirits and blue-eyed candor whose magnetism was almost impossible to resist, whether the character was Hud, Cool Hand Luke or Butch Cassidy.

He acted in more than 65 movies over more than 50 years, drawing on a physical grace, unassuming intelligence and good humor that made it all seem effortless. Yet he was also an ambitious, intellectual actor and a passionate student of his craft, and he achieved what most of his peers find impossible: remaining a major star into craggy, charismatic old age.

Confidence Man (CHARLES TAYLOR, Salon)
It's flip to say that the first half of Paul Newman's career shows how little acting can count for in the movies, while the second half shows how it can count for everything. The Newman of "The Long Hot Summer," "The Hustler," "Hud" and "Cool Hand Luke" was certainly an actor, and the Newman of "Slap Shot," "Fort Apache the Bronx," "Absence of Malice," "Blaze" and "Twilight" is by God a movie star. But pare down the exaggeration and you arrive at a kernel of truth. Had Paul Newman not made the change in his acting that began with 1977's "Slap Shot," made the conscious decision to delve deeper into himself and see what surprises might be waiting there, he might have spent his later screen career as a charming memento of the gorgeous and cocky smartass he started out as. Newman must have recognized that, and in the roles of the late '70s and early '80s, he found a way out. It's easy to look at those performances as the finest vintage of a dependable old pro. I'd argue that they are as exploratory and revelatory and, in their most daring moments, as naked as the work of Sean Penn, Robert Downey Jr. and Nicolas Cage, the finest actors of their generation.

Paul Newman dies at age 83 after battling cancer (Jay Stone, 9/27/08, Canwest News Service)
He used to joke that his epitaph would read, "Here lies Paul Newman, who died a failure because his eyes turned brown."

It was self-deprecation with a hint of truth: an impossibly handsome, blue-eyed film god, Paul Newman carried his good looks like both a gift and a curse, and it was when he went beyond them -- into roles as a callous womanizer or a self-involved failure or, later in his career, as an aging and rueful rebel -- that he showed he was also a fine actor.

The irony was that those roles were the farthest from what he was in real life. When he was dying, film critic Shawn Levy, who was working on a biography of Newman, wrote of him, "Funny, upright, smart, brave, moral, talented, faithful, honest, manly, wise, humble."

Actor Paul Newman dies at 83 (Lynn Smith, 9/27/08, Los Angeles Times)
Annoyed by the public's fascination with his resemblance to a Roman statue, particularly his Windex-blue eyes, Newman often chose offbeat character roles. In the 1950s and '60s, he helped define the American anti-hero and became identified with the charming misfits, cads and con men in film classics such as "The Hustler," "Hud," "Cool Hand Luke" and "Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid."

Newman's poker-game look in "The Sting" -- cunning, watchful, removed, amused, confident, alert -- summed up his power as a person and actor, said Stewart Stern, a screenwriter and longtime friend.

"You never see the whole deck, there's always some card somewhere he may or may not play," Stern said. "Maybe he doesn't even have it."

Newman claimed his success came less from natural talent than from hard work, luck and the tenacity of a terrier.

"Acting," he once said, "is really nothing but exploring certain facets of your own personality trying to become someone else." In early films, he said he tried to make himself fit the character but later aimed "to make the character come to me."

Academy Award-Winning Actor Paul Newman Dies at 83 (Adam Bernstein, 9/27/08, Washington Post)
Brooding and sinewy, with luminous blue eyes and a husky voice, Newman resembled a preppy Greek God in his earliest screen roles. He quickly rebelled against conventional casting that tried to turn him into a pretty-boy alternative to Marlon Brando and James Dean. He became known as an introspective and nonconformist performer -- a perfect anti-hero idol for the socially rebellious 1960s and 1970s.

In many of Newman's best films -- "The Hustler," "Hud," "Harper," "Cool Hand Luke," "Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid," "The Sting," "Slap Shot," "The Verdict," "Nobody's Fool" and "The Color of Money" (for which he won the Oscar) -- he played amoral rats, genial louts, self-destructive idealists, drunkards and has-beens. Some of his characters redeem themselves by being defeated or killed, and others just continue bumming along.

Newman hated to see his characters triumph on charm alone. No one, he said, would pay money to see such a beautiful man win the woman and save the day. Off-screen, he mocked his sex-symbol status and said that his personality was closest to the vulgar, second-rate hockey coach he played in "Slap Shot" (1977). His approach likely saved his career as he matured into a disciplined performer, one of the most enduring and polished of screen stars.

PAUL NEWMAN, 1925–2008: The Verdict: A Legend: Paul Newman played a lot of antiheroes, but his cool charm made viewers love him all the same. (David Ansen, 9/27/08, Newsweek)
When Paul Newman turned 70, I asked him about the pros and cons of aging. "What's difficult about getting old," he said, with that gravelly voice that set in in his 60s, "is remembering the way things used to be. There were such things as loyalty. The community hadn't disintegrated. The individual had not been deified at the expense of everything around him. I don't think that's just an old codger, you know, wishing for the old days. Goddam, they were better. There was a lot of ugliness, but there was a lot more grace." Newman, a modest man, would have been embarrassed to be told that he exemplified that grace, both on screen, where in his prime he played heels whom everyone fell in love with, and off, where his generosity, professionalism and decency were legendary.

Paul Newman dies at 83 (Jenny Percival, 9/27/08,
He initially tried to play down concerns about his health after reports that he was having cancer treatment in New York. This year he pulled out of directing a Connecticut stage production of John Steinbeck's Of Mice and Men because of unspecified health problems. He later issued a statement that said he was "doing nicely".

But AE Hotchner, who helped create the successful Newman's Own food company in 1982, confirmed in June that the actor had been ill for 18 months. "It's a form of cancer, and he's dealing with it. Paul is a fighter," Hotchner told the Associated Press.

In August, the US press reported that Newman had finished chemotherapy and told his family he wanted to die at home. The former chain smoker is said to have developed lung cancer.

Paul Newman: 'A pretty boy actor, but a hell of a good one' (Barry Norman, 9/27/08, Daily Mail)
With Paul Newman gone maybe only Clint Eastwood, five years his junior, is left of a generation of movie stars who defied the years to become and remain icons of the cinema screen.

You don't have to be much of an actor to become a film star - looks and personality often do it for you --but you have to be a very good one to remain a star and Newman was an extremely fine actor.

HE USED HIS FAME TO GIVE AWAY HIS FORTUNE. (Dahlia Lithwick, Sept. 27, 2008, Slate)
The Hole in the Wall Gang Camp opened in Connecticut in 1988 to provide a summer camping experience—fishing, tie-dye, ghost stories, s'mores—for seriously ill children. By 1989, when I started working there as a counselor, virtually everyone on staff would tell some version of the same story: Paul Newman, who had founded the camp when it became clear his little salad-dressing lark was accidentally going to earn him millions, stops by for one of his not-infrequent visits. He plops down at a table in the dining hall next to some kid with leukemia, or HIV, or sickle cell anemia, and starts to eat lunch. One version of the story has the kid look from the picture of Newman on the Newman's Own lemonade carton to Newman himself, then back to the carton and back to Newman again before asking, "Are you lost?" Another version: The kid looks steadily at him and demands, "Are you really Paul Human?"

Newman loved those stories. He loved to talk about the little kids who had no clue who he was, this friendly old guy who kept showing up at camp to take them fishing. While their counselors stammered, star-struck, the campers indulged Newman the way they'd have indulged a particularly friendly hospital blood technician. It took me years to understand why Newman loved being at the Hole in the Wall Gang Camp. It was for precisely the same reason these kids did. When the campers showed up, they became regular kids, despite the catheters and wheelchairs and prosthetic legs. And when Newman showed up, he was a regular guy with blue eyes, despite the Oscar and the racecars and the burgeoning marinara empire. The most striking thing about Paul Newman was that a man who could have blasted through his life demanding "Have you any idea who I am?" invariably wanted to hang out with folks—often little ones—who neither knew nor cared.

For his part, Newman put it all down to luck.

Posted by Orrin Judd at September 27, 2008 9:11 AM
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