Remembering a class act
I was sad to hear about the passing of 83-year-old actor Paul Newman, who died last Saturday at his home in Connecticut after a long battle with cancer.
When I think of Newman, I'm instantly reminded of his bright ocean-blue eyes and his signature role in "Cool Hand Luke," one of my all-time favorite movies. I first watched this movie after trying to find something interesting in my parents' VHS collection while I was in high school, and I thought he embodied an anti-hero as a stubborn-to-a-fault prisoner on a chain gang.
If you've ever seen this film, then you can understand why it was weeks before I wanted to eat eggs again and why I now associate boiled eggs with Newman, who was nominated for 10 Academy Awards and won two Oscars, one for his leading role as a pool shark in "The Color of Money" and the other for his humanitarian work.
There aren't many actors that I would consider as positive role models but Newman, who graduated from Kenyon College and studied drama at Yale University, was someone who didn't stay in the headlines for being a playboy, abusing drugs or ransacking hotel rooms.
Instead, the father of six children and U.S. Navy war veteran was known for his 50-year marriage to actress Joanne Woodward and his famous quote about fidelity while being interviewed for a magazine story. "I have steak at home; why go out for hamburger?"
He was also admired for his philanthropic work through his Newman's Own food company, which has raised more than $200 million to dozens of charities. He is also the founder of Hole in the Wall Gang camps, which are free for seriously ill children, and the Scott Newman Center, a drug and alcohol abuse prevention organization, in honor of his only son, who died of a drug overdose at age 28.
In another interview, he said, "The trick of living is to slip on and off the planet with the least fuss you can muster. I'm not running for sainthood. I just happen to think that in life we need to be a little like the farmer, who puts back into the soil what he takes out."
Newman, who was an avid car racer, was also known for his liberal political views, which was landed him on President Richard M. Nixon's enemy list. But you don't have to like his politics or movies to realize he was a class act and a great American.