Paul Newman dies.

Via Waylon Lewis
on Sep 27, 2008
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“Nobody gets out of life alive.” ~ Hud (Paul Newman)

Paul Newman was more than just another actor. He was a great, iconic actor—infamously nominated for the Oscar 10 times, winning once and receiving two honorary Oscars. He was a natural foods entrepreneur who gave 100% of profits to charity. And he was a good man, and active liberal—and most importantly of all (if only personally-speaking) a father figure.

I grew up without my old man being around much—so Paul Newman and his Sundance Kid, Robert Redford—along with Errol Flynn, Cary Grant, Toshior Mifune, Basil Rathbone, Magic Johnson—taught me how a man should be. Strong, but gentle. March to the beat of your own drummer. Charismatic, but caring. Of course, those were all the stars I lit my stumbling walk by, and I’ve never myself approached such brilliance. Still, Paul and Co did teach me that the great men are meek, strong enough not to have to show off. It’s a lesson I’m still working on, every day. 

If you’re a businessperson, read Paul Newman’s Shameless Exploitation in Pursuit of the Common Good. If you’re a consumer, buy Newman’s Own and his daughter’s Newman’s Own Organics—you’ll be supporting great quality food and great charities. If you’re a boy, watch Hud, as I did, three times in a row over the course of a weekend—pause and rewind scenes just to capture his strut, as I did in A Long, Hot Summer (based on Faulkner stories, and co-starring Paul’s wife of six decades, Joanne Woodward). There’s many other flicks, of course—The Hustler, Absence of Malice…but I’ll leave the details to the NY Times. Click here for article and slideshow.

Newman Paul - Photo - Paul Newman

And here’s a nice snippet via the London Free Press, by Liz Braun, on why he was one actor we could respect: 

‘Respect’ and ‘celebrity’ are words rarely found in the same sentence unless, of course, the subject is Paul Newman.

Newman was a real mensch. He won all kinds of awards for his work and for his philanthropy, but he also won the respect of his colleagues and his fans.

Newman was just as present, as smart and as straight-up in person as you might imagine. He was also from the last generation of what you might call honest-to-gawd movie stars, so there was always that little frisson of unreality about talking to him, but he could cut through the crap faster than most. Newman was always very outspoken, particularly about politics — he was in Richard Nixon’s bad books — and you could just tell he didn’t suffer fools gladly.

There was so much to admire about him.

The legendary screen actor was not the only movie star who took himself lightly, or who was happily married, or who had an interest in car racing, but he was certainly the only actor who could say he’d contributed up to $250 million to various good causes in his lifetime. 

You read that correctly: One quarter of a BILLION dollars. When it came to giving back and contributing to charity, Newman has had no equal in his profession.

He consistently put his money where his mouth is, most notably with the founding of the Newman’s Own Foundation in 1982, an outfit that donates all profits and royalties (after taxes) for educational and charitable purposes.

And it won’t stop now. Newman may have left the building, but the Newman’s Own Foundation is still around to continue giving.

“This is not about celebrity, this is a political issue,” he said about giving through Newman’s Own. “The concept that a person who has a lot holds his hand out to someone who has less is still a human trait. I am confounded by the stinginess of some institutions and some people. You can only put away so much stuff in your closet. In 1987, the average CEO earned 70 times more than someone working in his factory. It’s now 410 times. I don’t think there’s anything odd about philanthropy. It’s the other stance that confounds me.”

Newman and his friend author A.E. Hotchner (Papa Hemingway, King Of The Hill, Everyone Comes To Elaine’s) started Newman’s Own as a bit of a lark.

For years, the two men had been making salad dressing and giving it away as Christmas gifts when they went caroling in their Connecticut neighbourhood.

They decided to try to market the salad dressing, starting out by placing it in local shops, and after getting friends to do taste tests they settled on a single product: an oil-and-vinegar salad dressing. Newman put his picture on the label, apparently as a joke, and then he convinced a friend in the grocery business to get the ball rolling by taking a few thousands cases.

Various grocery consultants and marketing experts were all very happy to warn Newman that he could only lose money, and lots of it, with his tiny new business, but Newman’s Own Olive Oil & Vinegar Salad Dressing made a profit its first year out. The company then grew in leaps and bounds, and as Newman food fans know, the single salad dressing was joined by other dressings, spaghetti sauces, salsa and lemonade, among other products. (We recommend the Newman’s Own grape juice.)

About 15 years ago, Newman’s daughter Nell helped the company branch out with a new line of organic products that includes organic dog and cat food.

Newman has given money to various children’s charities and health centres, to a group that helps the homeless become self-reliant, to refugee groups, to humane societies and animal hospitals and to all manner of educational outlets. He co-sponsors the PEN/Newman’s Own First Amendment Award, a $25,000 reward designed to recognize those who protect the U,S. First Amendment as it applies to the written word.

His most famous charity, of course, is the Hole In The Wall Gang summer camps, which Newman established in 1988. These camps let sick children take part in all the usual camp activities — boating, overnight trips, arts and crafts, horseback riding, performing arts, fishing, archery, etc. — while they get free, 24-hour medical care. It’s all free for the children, and the camps have helped kids from all over Canada and the U.S. and 40 other countries. Never mind the famous blue eyes — Newman’s obvious soft spot for children’s charities have won him a lot of female fans.

Whenever Newman was in the public eye to promote a car race or a new movie, he never failed to plug Newman’s Own products or to remind people that they, too, could be part of a philanthropic activity.

Paul Newman was such a lovely guy. He will live on through his movies, of course, but even movies have a shelf-life.

His legacy is his extraordinary philanthropy.

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About Waylon Lewis

Waylon Lewis, founder of elephant magazine, now & host of Walk the Talk Show with Waylon Lewis, is a 1st generation American Buddhist “Dharma Brat." Voted #1 in U.S. on twitter for #green two years running, Changemaker & Eco Ambassador by Treehugger, Green Hero by Discovery’s Planet Green, Best (!) Shameless Self-Promoter at Westword's Web Awards, Prominent Buddhist by Shambhala Sun, & 100 Most Influential People in Health & Fitness 2011 by "Greatist", Waylon is a mediocre climber, lazy yogi, 365-day bicycle commuter & best friend to Redford (his rescue hound). His aim: to bring the good news re: "the mindful life" beyond the choir & to all those who didn't know they gave a care. | His first book, Things I would like to do with You, is now available.


10 Responses to “Paul Newman dies.”

  1. admin says:

    “Thank you for a fabulous obit and photos-! He was the guy to dream about, admire for his astounding generosity, and simply utterly enjoy his on screen transformations.” ~ K. Ellis

  2. L. Manning says:

    Thank you for writing this article! It was inspiring to read, as well as helpful to remember how this wonderful actor and human being lived his life…especially the bit about philanthropy in light of CEO salaries.

  3. Christine Szczepanczyk says:

    I just want to say that alot more people should start rising up and trying to stop this big huge difference CEO and Joe shmoe’s major difference in money making.
    I don’t think it will ever end …it will just get worse, even with a shining example of Paul Newman and others.

  4. des farrell says:

    Thank you.

  5. […] most ‘ordinary’ folk—self-concerned. Few use their newfound power and wealth to, like Paul Newman or Robert Redford, work their butts off in an effort to create long-term positive change. […]

  6. […] are serious stuff, when they want to be: Redford and Paul Newman, in the absence of a normal family life, taught me how to be a man. Though they weren’t there […]

  7. Easily one of the all time greats.

  8. This is the best site I’ve seen