Saturday, September 27, 2008

A Good Man Passes

by Pa Rock
Citizen Journalist

Paul Newman died yesterday at his home in Connecticut. He was an actor, a damn fine actor, and he was so much more. Paul Newman and his beautiful wife, Joanne Woodward, became the epitome of the good that people with money or celebrity could accomplish in life.

Newman was nominated for ten academy awards during his long and illustrious career, and won one Oscar - for The Color of Money. My first memory of him on the big screen was 1963's Hud in which he played the title role, an alienated young man struggling across Larry McMurtry's hard and dusty Texas. Six years later he paired with Robert Redford in the classic Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid, the film that was to lend its legend to Redford's Sundance Film Festival and Newman's Hole in the Wall Camp for seriously ill kids.

Paul Newman was a giver of the first order, and he used his considerable influence to nudge others into philanthropy. He started a line of food products based on his own recipes in the early 1980s and vowed to give any profits to charity. The project was phenomenally successful, allowing the actor to donate over a quarter of a billion dollars to charities during the remainder of his lifetime. In addition to the Hole in the Wall Camp (which evolved into several camps around the United States and the world), Newman also started and funded The Scott Newman Center, an organization that works to prevent substance abuse, out of respect for his son who died of a drug overdose.

People like Paul Newman seldom pass this way, but when they do we all need to take notice and be inspired by the good that they produce during their journey. Newman spent a lifetime paying it forward, and we are all better for his talents and good works. The man is gone, but his passions survive and march ever onward.

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