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Paul Newman has died at age 83 of cancer.


The Washington Post

The New York Times


An Appraisal

Paul Newman always wore his fame lightly, his beauty too. The beauty may have been more difficult to navigate, when he was young in the 1950’s and still being called the next Marlon Brando, establishing his bona fides at the Actors Studio and on Broadway.

Yet Mr. Newman, who died at his home in Westport, Conn. on Friday, never seemed to resent his good looks, as some men do; instead, he shrugged them off without letting them go. He learned to use that flawless face, so we could see the complexities underneath. And later, when age had extracted its price, he learned to use time too, showing us how beauty could be beaten down and nearly used up.

A First Class Actor, A Class Act

He stood for an American archetype: he was the shrewd guy. Practical, tough, urban. He figured angles, calculated odds, charted courses, deployed distractions, maneuvered brilliantly. He wasn't violent, he wasn't a leader, he wasn't Mr. Cool with the babes, he had limited gifts for comedy and highly-articulate, dialogue-driven set pieces. But nobody played shrewd better than Paul Newman. He became great playing shrewd.

You could see it in his eyes, and he probably didn't care much whether they were blue or not. You'd see them narrow as he lapsed into concentration, then come alive again as they read cues, divined patterns, perceived dynamics, sniffed weaknesses. He figured it out with a gusto he sold to audiences brilliantly and you -- with him -- enjoyed his triumphant cerebration.

Rest in peace, Mr. Newman, and condolences to Joanne Woodward, his children and family.

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He is probably as good an example as has ever existed of a great film actor being also a great man. I always knew that Newman's Own Salad Dressing went to charity, but somehow I'd missed that it was for the children's cancer camps. Really one of the most exemplary of all philanthropists.

As far as the film work, he was certainly a major star. I was not a big fan except for certain films--he's perfection in 'Sweet Bird of Youth' and I also love 'Paris Blues' with him and Joanne. I wish I'd seen him do 'Our Town' in 2002--that's a unique play, and he could do it sincerely if anyone could. I'd be interested to hear if anyone saw it, and wonder if compares favorably to the old film with Martha Scott and William Holden, which is in a class of its own.

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A true icon of film, Paul Newman garnered respect and admiration from people of all generations and walks of life. I adored him and will miss his appearances on talk shows such as David Letterman's. I thought he was gorgeous and that he looked a bit like my father. He was riveting to me in all his movies, the great ones as well as the not-so-great ones. I wish I had seen him in "Our Town".

Paul Newman, you were a class act and I bow down to your greatness and your humanity.

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One of my all-time favorite actors. I just recently read the Vanity Fair profile of him a month ago. I knew he had other interests, such as racing, and launched charities, but not that he had such a sense of humor about himself as a "celebrity." A person to emulate for young actors (and all of us). As an actor, he was amazing. I wasn't alive during his rise to the top, so it was surprising to read that he wasn't respected as an actor, but was thought of as a "film star." He had a way with damaged beautiful people. I'm thinking of his Tennessee Williams' characters in Sweet Bird of Youth and Cat on a Hot Tin Roof (his fight with Big Daddy in the basement gets me every time). And also in The Hustler. He had an amazing lightness with a great line, like in Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid and The Sting (which I liked better than "Butch...). Of course he was damn sexy. He could smolder (The Long Hot Summer). And was super in a romp, whether it was hanging by a chandelier in Rally Round the Flag, Paris Blues or in Slap Shot. One of my other favorites of his is From The Terrace. The ending....I'm always in tears.

He and his wife Joanne Woodward always carried themselves with dignity, humility and intellegence. (BTW, love his red wine vinaigrette and always use it. I didn't know that he wrote the snappy label descriptions himself, until reading it in the VF article).

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Thanks for posting those articles, Helene.

What can you say. A prince of a guy, and the end of an era. I think there was a book written about him called The Last Star and there’s a sense in which that’s quite true. As an actor he was indeed limited, despite his best efforts (I remember his wife acting him off the screen in Mr. and Mrs. Bridge without too much difficulty), and he spent more time than he should have in the sixties making not-so-hot pictures with not-too-great directors. But in the end it doesn’t matter. He always worked hard at his craft when he could have gotten by easily on looks and charm and he looked out for other actors, as well. Never a special favorite of mine but he was impossible to dislike, becoming a very canny performer as he matured, and it was always good to see him.

Nobody’s mentioned Absence of Malice, so far – I thought he was excellent in that.

He and his wife Joanne Woodward always carried themselves with dignity, humility and intellegence.

They handled a dicey personal situation very tactfully, too. Not many actors could have divorced a reluctant wife, with three young children in the picture, and emerged from it with no career damage.

I adored him and will miss his appearances on talk shows such as David Letterman's.

He was very funny and charming, always, in those appearances.

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his wife acting him off the screen in Mr. and Mrs. Bridge

Except for 'Paris Blues', all of their movies together were like that. She was always what brought this subtle exoticism to their films, whether 'The Long Hot Summer' or 'From the Terrace' . I think she may have been the first major actress to use her natural Southern accent a lot (also in 'The Fugitive Kind', of course, with Brando and Magnani and 'The Three Faces of Eve'). I saw a few of these films when they came out and I always went for her; only later did I find out that he was a bigger star, despite her Oscar and excellent reputation. I'd see something like 'Cool Hand Luke' and think 'oh, that was really great', and it would evaporate in a day or two, whereas I've never forgotten aspects of 'Rachel, Rachel', and I never saw it except after its original release. I always did like him, but there was not in the acting as much intensity or 'bite' as several other actors had, and very little sense of mystery. But in "paris blues', there's a wonderful moment in which they get silly together, and it has this very spontaneous quality of one's laughter stimulating the other's, and you just see Paul Newman and Joanne Woodward for a minute or two, it doesn't much get in the way of their 'characters'--who aren't all that boldly defined in that movie anyway. Things like 'The Color of Money' I respect, but don't like. 'Twilight' was probably the most recent thing I saw him in (with Susan Sarandon), and I found that very forgettable, reminded me a bit of '52 Pick-up' with Ann-Margret and Roy Scheider, but with little of the grit and occasional ferocity that film had.

Thanks for mentioning the PBS 'Our Town', sandik. NYPL has plenty of copies and I am going to be interested to see it.

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only later did I find out that he was a bigger star, despite her Oscar and excellent reputation.

There was a nice professional balance in the marriage, which I suspect helped it to survive: he was the bigger star, she the better actor. In addition, Woodward put her career on the back burner to keep the family stable, and it is very much to Newman’s credit that he recognized and appreciated this and Woodward’s greater range and ability -- ‘Rachel, Rachel’ is in effect his thank-you to his wife.

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I remember him also as a racecar driver. I watched him race at Lime Rock Connecticut and Summit Point West Virginia. About 20 years ago as an amateur racer at Summit Point I was working on my car and happened to look up to see the Newmans walking toward me. They were just going around the paddock greeting the drivers. He was not "Hollywood" he was a caring person.

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They were just going around the paddock greeting the drivers. He was not "Hollywood" he was a caring person.

The French media ran interviews of French driver Sébastien Bourdais (now in Formula 1), who had worked for the Newman-Haas team for several years, and who insisted on how friendly and caring Newman was (a funny coincidence was that on the day Newman finished 2nd at the 24 hours of Le Mans, Bourdais was a few months old... and attending the race with his dad).

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