Sunday, September 28, 2008

Our Paul Newman

I didn't think we'd ever lose Paul Newman.

It sounds crazy to say that, but for some reason I thought we'd have him forever. I know everybody dies, but, come on--Paul Newman?

I know he was old; I know he was sick. I know he was just a human being and not the supernatural spirit that we like to think certain movie stars are, but I'm greedy. I don't want to let him go.

One time when my father was talking about Joe Louis and other fighters of that day, he paused and said with deep conviction "you thought these guys would never grow old."

That sounded so odd to me back then, so ridiculous, but when I heard about Paul Newman's death on the radio yesterday, my father's words came back to me. I didn't think Paul Newman would ever die.

My mother, like several million other women on earth, had the most incredible crush on Paul Newman. In fact, whenever she spoke about him, she always tacked on the singular possessive, saying "my Paul Newman" each and every time she mentioned his name.

She said it so often that in my mind they're kind of a couple actually--no offense to Joanne Woodward.

I would have loved to see the two of them get together. Maybe now since they're both gone, my mother is finally getting a chance to meet her Paul Newman. That would certainly be her idea of paradise.

Newman was such fine actor and, I believe, a fine human being, even though I obviously never met the man. He always delivered the goods, even if the material he was working with was sub-standard.

Of course I loved his politics and the fact that he irritated a whole bunch of people that I didn't like.

The guy seemed real, so real that I can't accept the grim reality that all of us, no matter who we are, only have a short time on this earth, that we all grow old and die. Even Joe Louis and Paul Newman.

My sister and I once saw Paul Newman and Joanne Woodward--really. It was several years ago and we had gone to see some incredibly forgettable play. We saw them during the intermission, in one of the front rows.

He was older then, with a full beard that tacked on a few more years. But he was still Paul Newman.

I've been trying to pick my favorite Paul Newman film, but I honestly don't know if I have one in particular. I just liked watching the guy work.

There's a scene in The Hustler when he's marveling at Jackie Gleason's pool playing skills. That's how I watched Paul Newman on the screen. I sat back and thought, "look at the guy go."

I saw The Life and Times of Judge Roy Bean at the Alpine Theater on 69th Street some 30-odd years ago (oh, God...) and even though it was a turkey, I liked it.

My favorite came at the end, when Bean returns from a long self-imposed vanishing act and faces down a crew of Industrial Age hoodlums who have invaded his once-small town.

"Who are you?" one thug asks.

"Justice, you sons-of-bitches!" Bean shouts before unleashing holy hell.

Like a lot of things, it sounded great when Paul Newman said it.


The Black Queen said...

I came across your blog by chance browsing the net on Paul Newman, and I have to say you really moved me. You express every feeling I've been having since I read the terrible news. Somehow I knew he was human, of course, he was sick and wouldn't be too long before he left us, but... No, he hasn't left us, he will never do such a thing. Men like him never go, and I don't mean we can still enjoy his performances. He is part of my life, I wouldn't be the same without him, and like me many more. He has made this world a little better, that is his legacy, and that is why he'll remain with us for as long as we live. Paul Newman is inmortal.
Thank you for this piece. And thank you Paul for spreading the magic and changing our lives.

Vigilante said...

That's what I want in 2008/2009: Justice for the sons-of-bitches.

Rob K said...

And I want to thank you both for leaving your comments.

Black Queen: you're so right. Someone like Paul Newman can never leave us. We cannot allow that to happen.

And Vigilante, well, yeah, exactly: justice for these sons-of-bitches.

Ask Aunt B said...

Hi Sweetheart, Just a drive-by, top down, wind in my hair...

I bet Brooklyn's wonderful right now, huh? Autumn is my fav time of the year. I used to say that I fell in love every Autumn, even if it was with the same man. Used to say...

Hope you are well my friend. Thinking of you with big love!

Ask Aunt B said...

PS, I loved Paul Newman as well. The older we get the more they disappear, huh?


Rob K said...

Hey, Babs! Great to hear from you! Big love right back at you--we had a family trip out to the Brooklyn Botanical Gardens and it was indeed beautiful.

And I'm still missing Paul Newman--we're losing all the good ones.

movie fan said...

I have always admired Paul Newman for putting his money to work in such productive ways... his Newman's Own line is high quality stuff and the proceeds go to good causes too, it's a win-win

Rob K said...

Excellent point. I was at a function yesterday where they were serving some of Newman's Own Cookies and I got a little misty looking at his photo on the package.

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