An Icon Silenced

I was quite disturbed to learn this morning of the death of legendary actor Paul Newman at age 83. While not a believer in nor particularly tolerant of celebrity culture, Paul Newman was one of the most honest, real and genuine individuals in show business, even to the point of taking out an ad in Variety to apologize for what he thought was a particularly poor film, 1954’s “The Silver Chalice” (he was probably right, if reviews and synopses are to be trusted). That it was his first film says something for his integrity, not to mention the fact that even though he would go on to be adored by millions worldwide, he never took himself or fame too seriously. His 50-year marriage to Joanne Woodward is one of the legendary few marriages that have lasted that long in the crucible of Hollywood life.

He will be remembered for his charitable work, with his “Newman’s Own” brand of products being responsible for raising over $175 million for charity, but mostly he will be remembered for being one of those actors who, when you saw their names in the credits, would make you think, “this will be good”. I was by no means obsessed or dedicated to collecting his work, but I always enjoyed it. The fact that he was a real individual, reluctant to embrace the spotlight and, through his charitable work, caring about his fellow man, made him worthy of admiration. I wish, in some small way, I could have conveyed my admiration.

But now that he’s gone, I have lost the opportunity, which gives me a chance to quote one of his best-known lines:

What we’ve got here is a failure to communicate.

(“Cool Hand Luke”, 1967)

A Sad but True Flash Fact.


One thought on “An Icon Silenced

  1. Hey Flash,

    I’ll agree with you on ‘celebrity culture’ but I think in many ways Newman was the anti-thesis of celebrity culture:

    he never made the news for a publicity stunt, a drunken escapade, or an extra-marital affair

    he wasn’t famous simply for being famous – he made his celebrity the old-fashioned way, by putting out a consistently good body of work – I hadn’t heard about the full-page ad for ‘Silver Chalice’ but it’s right in line with the kind of guy he was – a class act all the way.

    I will make one quibble though – you left out what he considered to be his greatest accomplishment – making Richard Nixon’s enemies list.


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