Ironically, I just finished re-watching Cool Hand Luke again on Friday, and then I woke up today and saw on the news that the natural born “hardcase” had passed away. I have a picture of Paul Newman and Robert Redford in my office from the final scene of Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid, and everytime I look at it, I can’t help but smile. Those who know me best know that my favorite actor is Robert Redford, which means that I have to love Paul Newman by association. However, my admiration for Newman goes beyond his connection to and relationship with Redford. Newman made some of my favorite movies and played the kind of characters in films that you remember more so than the actor.
I once saw a special on televison where Newman critiqued the new age of film-making because nowadays movies conform to the actors rather than the actors to the movies. In other words, what you have is people writing scripts specifically geared to catch a particular actor or actress rather than writing a script and then seeing which actor or actress can best morph into that character. I think in the music business we see the same thing going on too. Instead of asking people who are making authentic music to sign record deals, we are saying to the artists, “Here’s the kind of music we want you to make. You can have a record deal if you can fill these shoes and wear as little clothing as possible.”
Newman was one of the great pillars of the leading men in the old Hollywood. Not many people even know that he’s been married to Joanne Woodward since 1958. Kind of unusal for that to happen these days, even outside of Hollywood. I’m going to miss Newman, and I appreciate the legacy he left behind. The world is changing so much, I don’t expect to see movies put out at the caliber of his generation for a long time. It seems that the classic quote from Cool Hand Luke is becoming all the more relevant as this world becomes darker and darker, and sin abounds: “What we’ve got here is failure to communicate.” Check out this great slide-show from the NY Times that covers most of Newman’s greatest performances. Also click here to read Redford’s personal thoughts on his close friend’s death.
Paul Newman, Hollywood’s anti-hero, dies at 83 By JOHN CHRISTOFFERSEN, Associated Press Writer
WESTPORT, Conn. – Paul Newman never much cared for what he once called the “rubbish” of Hollywood, choosing to live in a quiet community on the opposite corner of the U.S. map, staying with his wife of many years and — long after he became bored with acting — pursuing his dual passions of philanthropy and race cars.
And yet despite enormous success in both endeavors and a vile distaste for celebrity, the Oscar-winning actor never lost the aura of a towering Hollywood movie star, turning in roles later in life that carried all the blue-eyed, heartthrob cool of his anti-hero performances in “Hud,” “Cool Hand Luke” and “Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid.”
The 10-time Academy Award nominee died Friday at age 83, surrounded by family and close friends at his Westport farmhouse following a long battle with cancer, publicist Jeff Sanderson said Saturday.