The world is diminished today with the loss of Paul Newman. It is easy to be a fan of Cool Hand Luke, but Newman's philanthropy is what astounds me the most.
My first introduction to Newman was in Cat on a Hot Tin Roof. He was quite a Brick--a pretty brave role for any man to play during that time. I promptly followed that viewing with Long Hot Summer and then the rest of his work followed.
In 2003, I saw Newman live in the Broadway production of "Our Town" that moved from his wife's Connecticut theater. He played the role of the Stage Manager and one image of him in that role is indelible for me. After visiting her childhood, when Emily is overwhelmed by all she didn't notice, she begs the Stage Manager to "take her back" to her grave. As the Stage Manager sitting on Emily's grave, Newman responded by holding his arms open wide. God should greet us all that way.
Words Newman spoke in that role are comforting me tonight, "We all know that something is eternal. And it ain't houses and it ain't names, and it ain't earth, and it ain't even the stars . . . everybody knows in their bones that something is eternal, and that something has to do with human beings. All the greatest people ever lived have been telling us that for five thousand years and yet you'd be surprised how people are always losing hold of it. There's something way down deep that's eternal about every human being." Thank you Thornton Wilder.
Thank you, Mr. Newman. For your performances, your humanity, your kindness and your joy. You will be greatly missed.