...Paul Newman passed away on Friday, and the news saddened me deeply. To the point where I spent the first couple of hours on Saturday very quietly at my computer, and tearing up here and there.
Especially when I explained to the children that the man on the spaghetti and salsa jars was a very accomplished actor. A Star.
A couple of years ago I wrote about the differences between celebrities and stars. I neglected to mention Paul Newman in that entry, and right now I can't imagine why he was overlooked. He falls right into that definition of 'star' instead of that of 'celebrity'.
He had a powerful body of work, a long one too, and while he was in the spotlight for racing cars and making salad dressing he was also out of it almost equally as much since he didn't really give interviews and preferred to spend time in his Connecticut home with his wife, actress Joanne Woodward.
I suppose that's the key to how they stayed married for 50 years - neither of them aggressively sought out the spotlight. It trained on them from time to time, role to role, but they didn't encourage it. Definitely classy behavior and not crassy behavior.
I know some won't agree with me considering his time in the spotlight being an activist. But he wasn't an obnoxious activist like Jane Fonda could be at times. He spoke quietly but with conviction about what he believed in and few could fault him for those convictions - anti-Vietnam, pro-supporting disadvantaged or ill children. He never really had that "failure to communicate" that his character from 'Cool Hand Luke' was accused of. He had no problems speaking about what he believed in. You don't condemn someone for those beliefs, especially when children are involved. Then there's the whole Newman's Own situation with profits going to charities and the infamous Hole in the Wall Gang camp, which brought more publicity his way, but he never thought that company would take off like it did. It's oft noted that he teamed up with his neighbor to bottle the salad dressing on a whim.
He was a bright light in the film industry and the food industry. And sadly, he is no more. There were rumors that he was ill that would pop up now and then for the past few months, but most media outlets let them go quickly. He himself said he was doing fine and no one pushed it. Was it because he was considered reclusive or they gave up because they knew they would never get a statement from him? Who knows. Doesn't matter - he had his privacy until the very end, when he passed away at home which apparently was his wish. I hope it was a dignified and quiet end, which would have suited the persona he allowed the public to see, and that would most likely have given his family peace.
But another bright light has winked out, and it is one that will be missed by many.