Saturday, September 27, 2008

Goodbye Paul

Long day today. I went to Mama Gena's for the first time and sometime in the middle of the day, I checked my BlackBerry and found an email from The Huffington Post which said, "Paul Newman dead at 83." I was stunned. I knew that he'd been sick, but I really was shocked that he was dead.

The day was spent with a group of women, talking about claiming our power - as sexual beings - beautiful, talented, smart, successful, hot - it was exhilarating and wild and funny. I can't tell you more than that really, it's the kind of thing you have to experience. But maybe by the end of the workshop (it last for four months) I'll have something more to share. Right now, I'm in the thick of it and it's a bit...well, wild.

But I have to say that when I saw that post that Paul Newman died, I felt sad.

On the way home I read the Times obit and thought about all that Paul Newman had accomplished, the brilliant roles he'd played, his fearlessness as an actor, choosing to play characters that weren't always likable (unusual in Hollywood.) His race car driving and his love of Joanne Woodward and his kids. The loss of his son Scott (who I'd imagined when I was in my twenties living in LA, I would meet and date - I lived in a fantasy world, and he died so young.)

And then, since 1982, "Paul Newman's Own" business began, and became a huge success, donating all its earnings to charities. What a smart, talented, generous and decent man he seemed to be

I had his poster up in my room for years when I was growing up. I had it in my room when I was in high school and it went with me to college. I had two Pauls I loved, Paul Newman and Paul McCartney, but I think I always loved Newman most. It may have been his intelligence, that showed in his gorgeous blue eyes. He just was it. The perfect guy.

Once, years ago, we were on the same flight, LA to NY. I can't remember if Joanne was on the flight, I was just excited that Paul Newman was going to be on the same plane. But I remember thinking, "He's short, isn't he?" And as often happens when you are in close proximity to someone you've worshipped, they rarely live up to the fantasy. And then years later, I was in a theater with a friend, and Paul and Joanne were sitting a few rows ahead of us. It just seemed so natural to see them there. They were a handsome couple who clearly enjoyed being together.

I guess the magic is in the films. I couldn't keep my eyes off him in roles like Cool Hand Luke, Hud, Cat On a Hot Tin Roof, Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid, Somebody Up There Likes Me, The Long Hot Summer, and some of his later films, The Verdict, The Color of Money, The Road to Perdition.

This election may have really pissed him off. He was such a liberal Democrat, so politically astute. I'm sorry that he's gone, he seemed to really enjoy life. Maybe the last eight years were too much for him. I know they've been for many of us.

I guess it is a good reminder of why I'm at Mama Gena's. To have passion, to do the work that you enjoy, to be in love, to give back. To be someone like Paul Newman, and have a life like he had, would be a major blessing. It doesn't get much better than that.

We will miss you, Paul. Those of us who love film, many generations of us who admired your work, will miss you.

1 comment:

Mia said...

He was also a huge financial supporter of The Nation and occasionally wrote editorials for it. A real American hero.