September 27, 2008

Paul Newman has died.

We knew he was dying, but it is sad to know he's gone. I'll have more in a few minutes, but here's a press report. Please talk about your favorite Paul Newman movies.

ADDED: To tell you the truth, Paul Newman is an actor whose movies I often avoided, for some reason. Even though I was a very frequent movie-goer during his heyday, I never saw "The Sting" or "Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid." I never saw "The Color of Money" or "The Hustler." Despite my law career, I never saw "The Verdict" or "Absence of Malice" or "The Life and Times of Judge Roy Bean." Reading over his list of movies, it seems as though I have been going out of my way to avoid Newman's movies. I don't know why. I thought he was an excellent actor, and he was certainly as good-looking as a human being can be. Perhaps it's that when I was quite young, I saw "Hud" and "Harper" and just didn't understand the point.

I've seen "Mr. and Mrs. Bridge," "Sweet Bird of Youth," "Cat on a Hot Tin Roof," and "Cool Hand Luke." When I think of Paul Newman movies, that's the one I think of first, the emblematic Paul Newman movie, "Cool Hand Luke":

"I've got the words of Mary, assuring me that I won't go to Hell."

IN THE COMMENTS: Ruth Anne Adams asks: "Is your misquote an Episcopalian mondegreen?" Misquote? Oh, yes, it's "Virgin Mary," not "words of Mary." Episcopalian? More likely, Beatles.


Roger J. said...

RIP Paul Newman. More important than is brilliant acting career, he was involved in children's issues. My college was a recipient of a grant from the Newman foundation that helped non-traditional students go on to higher education. Three students in my public admin program when on the win Woodrow Wilson fellowships because Paul Newman's foundation supported their undergrad tuition.

A great actor, a great American, and a philanthropist. RIP Mr. Newman, and my heartfelt sympathies to Joanne Woodward. We are all diminished by his loss.

Wince said...

I'll always remember how Cool Hand Luke sang "Plastic Jesus" after his momma died.

RIP, Lukie Boy.

Video here:

Meade said...

Great husband, great dad, great actor. Handsome even in short pants. (Note: In photo, he's in the privacy of his own home.)

Sissy Willis said...

"Paul Newman IS Hud," but I especially adored his voice role as Doc Hudson -- the seemingly quiet country doctor/Hudson Hornet who runs the local "medical clinic" (mechanic shop) in Radiator Springs but turns out to be a former racing champion and eventually mentors young hotshot Lightning McQueen in "Cars."

Fred4Pres said...

Thinking back last night I thought what we have here is a failure to communicate...

Paul Newman was a good egg. I will miss him.

Ann Althouse said...

EDH, I put up that video before I read your comment. It's very touching to see it now.

RightGirl said...

Cool Hand Luke is the obvious, but Cat on a Hot Tin Roof was my fave. The interaction between him, Taylor, and a bottle of whiskey... brilliant.


Jake said...


mrs whatsit said...

An honorable man. Rare in his profession.

I would just like to point out that the New York Times cannot spell gorgeous. How long do you suppose they've had that obituary pre-written, ready to go, and misspelled?

Harwood said...

"I've got the words of Mary, assuring me that I won't go to Hell."

virgin Mary

Anonymous said...

This very sad news. I remember watching some of his movies as a child, and later in the US in TMC and AMC. He was one of the greatest, the last few left. May he rest in peace.

EnigmatiCore said...

I suggest using this opportunity to make time to see at least "Absence of Malice" and "The Sting".

The former is one of my all-time favorite movies.

Ron said...

I liked him a lot in a small film, Where the Money is.

ricpic said...

I think that he was a solid journeyman actor, but not great or moving in the Brando or DeNiro sense. Hope that doesn't sound disrespectful. I just wonder why Newman types, like his good buddy Redford, go into acting in the first place. There doesn't seem to be the fire in the belly. Beautiful, yes. But beyond that?...

zeek said...

Ms. Althouse, you must see "Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid" and "The Sting" in that order. Also "Absence of Malice" and "The Verdict," though you'll probably pick them apart on legal procedure or somesuch, they are excellent dramas.

sonicfrog said...

I loved the Sting, but I will always remember him as Butch Cassidy.

Tank said...

I enjoyed all the ones you missed, particularly The Sting. Not sure how they'll hold up now.

My wife would have left me in, oh one second, for either Newman or Redford.

Maybe she'll meet them in her next life, which she believes in, see next thread up.

Unknown said...

Never saw any of his films except one.

Didn't like his politics, and especially not his political statements.

Admired his charity work and love of driving the race cars.

Admired his 50 year marriage, sticking with Joanne even when they (publicly) had hard times.

The one movie of his I saw?

The Verdict (you tube clip of best scene), written by David Mamet and directed by Sidney Lumet. Nominated for Best Picture, Director, Screenplay, Actor and Supporting Actor.

It's my #1 favorite movie.

knox said...

Best-looking movie star ever. Had a giant poster of him in college! : )

Love ya, Paul. Classy, unbelievably generous.

Troy said...

Slap Shot is a great film too. He's loud, profane, and over the hill.... all the things you don't expect Paul Newman to be. And he was hilarious to boot. Road to Perdition was a chilling performance also.

Amexpat said...

Late in the 70's I worked as a busboy in a large, casual restaurant in LA. Many famous actors would come in and you wouldn't notice them unless someone pointed them out or you served their table. If you did notice them they always seemed less impressive up close than on the screen.

Paul Newman was an exception. As soon as he came in there was a buzz in the restaurant and he had this glow that made you want to look at him. I ended up serving his food because the waitress who took his order was too nervous to continue. He seemed intoxicated, he was drinking beers, and he gave me a hard time because his salad was too big and food would be wasted. It was cool being the recipient of that famous hard glare.

MadisonMan said...

Very sad to read it. Sting is one of my favorite movies. One, because of the score and two because of Paul Newman.

chickelit said...

Sad news indeed. I've seen almost all of his movies too.

Althouse said: To tell you the truth, Paul Newman is an actor whose movies I often avoided, for some reason.

You could probably put your finger on a reason. I have the same thing going on for handsome actors like George Clooney.

michaele said...

The first Paul Newman film I saw was Exodus (1960). I was 12 years old and just starting to feel an interest in the opposite sex. His effect on me was like the imprinting that goes on with a young animal and whoever/whatever they think is their mom. I was totally enthralled by his mocking blue eyes and somewhat rakish energy.During my high school and college years, mildly naughty guys with blue eyes had a head start in the romance department.

Bissage said...

Paul Newman was the Heineken of Hollywood's leading men.

Edde said...

Add Hombre, an early Elmore Leonard story, to your list of Essentials. Newman's in rare form, and the dialectic between him and Diane Cilento is priceless. Plus an evil star turn from Richard Boone.

Money quote of timely relevance from Absence of Malice, on journalists: "You don't print the truth. You print what you hear. You don't come across truth that easy."

William Tyroler said...

I'll put in a word for "Hombre" which (oddly, I think) isn't being mentioned at all.

The Drill SGT said...

Classy guy. You might not always agree with him, but an honest classy guy. RIP.

Ann, you've missed some great ones. I'd particularly recommend
"The Verdict" or "Absence of Malice". The Sting might be a better film, but I loved the morality of these two.

Brent, the summation was great, but my favoritte scenes were:

1. the Kaitlin Costello cross-examination. Great teaching moments Ann :)

Never ever ask a question you don't know the answer to.

2. The closing Bishop and the minion scene, Post Caitlin.

As for "Absence of Malice". The Willford Brimley wrapup is a classic. he steals the film in 5 minutes. Newman's pretty good there as well.

Maxine Weiss said...

The Sting, and Cat on a Hot Tin Roof.

How many. I share a birthday with Joanne. It surprises me that a Pisces would outlive an Aquarius.

The Aquarius is very fragile, healthwise.....but more frail than a Pisces ?

Not possible. Just goes to show the benefits of a happy marriage.

Ruth Anne Adams said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Roger J. said...

William Tyroler. YES! best line in the move is when the bad guys come up the hill and Hombre says, "I gotta a question--how are you going to back down this hill?"
Thanks for reminding me.

Beth said...

What a beautiful man, in every sense of the word. And to all reports, lived a good life with a woman he loved and who loved him. I feel badly for Joanne Woodward.

I love Hud, Cat on a Hot Tin Roof, and Cool Hand Luke, but also later works, like The Road to Perdition.

bleeper said...

Very sad indeed. We knew his death was nigh, but it was still too soon. He lived life to the fullest, including a few hot laps around Lime Rock Park recently.

I have seen a lot of his movies, am not sure which one I like the best, but today, I want to see Cool Hand Luke. And he wasn't just a good egg, he was every bit of fifty times that.

You shall be missed, Mr. Newman. You were a good man.

Jim Hu said...

To tell you the truth, Paul Newman is an actor whose movies I often avoided, for some reason.
I react to this on my blog

Relevant excerpt:
I saw The Sting and Butch Cassidy when they came out, but never saw The Hustler, and I haven't even watched Cool Hand Luke all the way through. I enjoyed the Newman films I did see, but don't know why I haven't seen more. Perhaps it's timing, and the two years difference in how old I was between Cool Hand Luke (1967 when I was 14 and infrequently saw movies with my family) and Butch Cassidy (1969, when I was 16, starting to go with my friends). By the time I was in college, Newman was sufficiently mainstream to be dull while I was discovering foreign films and he wasn't a big part of the changes in US filmmaking in the 1970s, which I associate with Altman and Coppola in the early 1970s, and the appearance of Spielberg and Lucas later. Newman was the cool guy of the previous wave, not of my generation.

Cedarford said...

Paul Newman. Lived life to the fullest.


1. "A" List actor for 5 decades. You can argue he wasn't a "great actor" but the same argument can be made of John Wayne and Clint Eastwood. He made big movies, he made himself and Hollywood lots of money in the process and left behind over 20 "classics".

2. He started a new concept in charity that others emulated - the commercial product that has creation and sales directed at profit going to charity. It and the products Newman chose were brilliant. He gave nearly a half billion dollars to charitable causes through this concept.
He also donated time to his charity causes and even before "Newman's Own" - was a generous donor of his film money proceeeds.

3. He found late in life that he had a rare gift of vision and lightning reflexes that made him a superb race driver. He is the oldest man to be part of a winning Le Mans Team. He was a "star" in his own right in that sport and tales of his escapades, starting with Steve McQueen early on, are pretty incredible.

4. WWII Vet.

5. Like his politics or not, and he could be obnoxious about casting people he thought were "too conservative" in his projects - but he was honest and paszionate in his long work on behalf of Democrats.

I met him once, while in full uniform right after the Gulf War, along with Joanne Woodward. At a Stew Leonard's parking lot in Norwalk CT. Charming guy. I accused him jokingly, of stealing his wife's spaghetti sauce recipe (which I had 3 jars of in my grocery bag) and claiming credit for it.

For his charity work, I would have lowered flags to half-staff for a day, if I was Prez - for the role model he was to others.

Scout said...

You must make every effort to see whatever Paul Newman movies you have missed. He was truly great, both on the screen and in real life with ALL of the charitable giving (estimated to be at least 200 million) and work he did. Several have already mentioned their favorites and I must agree that 'The Verdict', 'Absence of Malice', 'The Sting', 'Butch Cassisy and the Sundance Kid' and "Cat on a Hot Tin Roof' are on my list; but I would add:"The Long, Hot Summer' to that as well. Paul Newman was a 'character' and 'method' actor. For his part in 'The Long, Hot summer', he actually went to Mississippi for several months, lived and learned everything he could about the south. That is also the movie where he and Joann Woodward met and they were later married that same year; 1957, I believe.
He will be missed.

vbspurs said...

RIP, Mr. Newman.


Maxine Weiss said...


OhioAnne said...

In college we all loved Robert Redford - until we saw him with the "old guy" Paul Newman in a movie. For the first time, the idea that sexy didn't stop when you hit 40 entered our 20-something brains.

"The Sting", as I recall, was the movie that everyone would say that you had to go see, but no one talked about the ending. They wanted you to experience it for yourself.

If you decide to catch up on the ones that you missed - rent the DVD's. Commercial TV has cut them up too much. They have to be seen in their entirety.

Newman had the ability to laugh at himself. One of my favorite books were The Silver Chalice. Newman publicly apologized for his role in that movie. He was badly miscast in that one and he knew it. It wasn't a bad book but it was a horrible movie.

Anonymous said...

We have lost another good one, with Paul Newman. He put a lot of talent and goodness into the world. My sympathies to Mrs Newman and family. May he rest in peace.

June W

EnigmatiCore said...

Newman, gone.

McQueen, gone.

And OJ lives.

/kinda like the kitten he saves at the end...

rhhardin said...

I didn't know what movies Paul Newman was in. Salad dressings for charity, is all I knew for sure, from Imus mentions.

It turns out I saw Butch Cassidy, from back when I sampled movies, if only rarely.

Not a movie star follower type.

rhhardin said...

I'm still getting over Bach dying. ``The late Johann Sebasian Bach,'' as he was reverently introduced by a local public radio announcer.

A lot of great songs.

William said...

The roles of movie star, good husband, philanthropist, race car driver, etc. are not necessarily conflicting but they are certainly not complementary. That he was so good in these varying roles shows something of the magnitude of the man. He was someone special not just in his talents but in the graceful way he managed those talents. He was not the greatest actor, but he was the noblest movie star of them all....He made a terrific movie in all the stages of his life about all the stages of life. Probably not his best movie, but the one I'm going to rent is Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid. He dies a fine, glorious, foolish death at the end of that movie.

Sissy Willis said...

Also, he was notoriously homosexual, but all lips are now sealed. The love that dare not speak its name still dares not speak its name? Pour on the dressing.

Deborah M. said...

Here's what I liked about Paul Newman, in no particular order:

Not impressed with himself or seemingly any other actor except maybe Joanne Woodward.

Married to Joanne Woodward for 50+ years. She was from Georgia. He once said, when asked whether he was tempted to stray, "When you've got steak at home, why go out for hamburger?"

Gave away a lot of money. When asked about it, he said, "Why not? I don't need it." or words to that effect.

Made "The Verdict" and was cheated out of an Oscar (in a politically correct move, went to Ben Kingsley for "Gandhi". IMHO). But I never heard of him griping about it.

Didn't buy into the Hollywood BS.

Race car driver.

Blue eyes.


Favorite movie: The Verdict. Absolutely, totally, completely perfect, wonderful, great performance.
Sorry if any of this has been previously mentioned.

Ann Althouse said...

I have seen "Long, Hot Summer," now that you mention it.

LoafingOaf said...

He gave one of the best acting performances I've ever seen in The Verdict.

One fave of mine (which I watch every year as New Years Eve approaches) is The Hudsucker Proxy. People might avoid renting it because it stars Tim Robbins, but it's a really funny movie!

Newman grew up in the same city as me (Shaker Heights, Ohio) and went to the same college as my dad and brother (Kenyon College). Not that that really matters (it's not like I knew him), but it made me pay extra attention to his career. Homeboy done good and all that. And it was cool that he was never one of these celebrities in the tabloids all the time. I guess the great ones don't need that crap. I did once run into him at a restaurant in Shaker about a decade ago, and though I didn't actually talk to him, it was completely apparent what a nice and genuine man he was.

So, tonight I'm about to make some pasta with Newman's Own vodka sauce, a salad with Newman's Own dressing. Then pop some Newman's Own popcorn, spike some Newman's Own lemonade, and enjoy a couple of his movies on DVD. :)

Unknown said...

Check out Nobody's Fool, if you haven't seen it. Wonderful, wonderful performance.

Roy Lofquist said...

Dear Ann,

Everybody has their favorite Newman film. Mine is "The Hustler". In fact, it my favorite film of all time. Beats out "Casablanca" and "A Streetcar Named Desire" - not by much but it does.

I have been in those places - high stakes pool and poker. This film nails it.

Newman, George C. Scott, Piper Laurie and Jackie Gleason - best foursome ever. George C. Scott notably shunned the Oscars and refused to appear to receive his award for "Patton" because "West Side Story" won Best Picture over "The Hustler" the year before.

The dialogue is spare and brutal. The black and white cinematography is stark. The character actors are superb.

I urge all of you to watch this magnificent work.


Anonymous said...

Paul Newman pictured being pushed from New York's Weill Cornell Medical Center in late July 2008.

Trooper York said...

Rocky Graziano: You know, I've been lucky. Somebody up there likes me.
Mrs. Norma Graziano: Somebody down here too.
(Somebody Up There Likes Me 1956)

MadisonMan said...

The boiled-egg eating scene he did must have turned you off to him.