By Jeffrey Jolson
HOLLYWOOD (RUSHPRNEWS/HOLLYWOODTODAY) 9/28/08 â€” It is a sad day in Hollywood and around the world, and not just for film fans. Much of the most brilliant work cool hand Paul Newman ever did before he died at 83 wasnâ€™t on the silver screen, but in hospitals, the UN, store shelves and charities worldwide. He was the pioneer of the actor activist, the model that the Clooneys and Jolies have followed – and he did it with the mix of class and rebellious spirit that made his movie characters so memorable.
â€œHis greatest legacy ironically wonâ€™t be his brilliant films but his visionary role as creative capitalist. He raised $200 million for charity, not by pleading for donations, but by building a business model,â€ said author and publicist to the stars Michael Levine.
In film, Newman was a role model for every rebel, from Marlon Brando and James Dean, to the fresh stars today. With â€œHudâ€, â€œCool Hand Lukeâ€, â€œButch Cassidy and the Sundance Kidâ€ and â€œThe Verdict,â€ he always played characters that you shouldnâ€™t have had sympathy for, but did when he played them with a modesty and aplomb.
And his message was always clear – do the right thing, even when the whole world thinks you are wrong.
â€œThe light that you think you emanate is not necessarily the light that other people see,â€ Newman said in 1990. â€œYou think of yourself as a shy, retiring whatever it is, and some other people will see you in an entirely different way. â€¦ You have to constantly learn. â€¦ I donâ€™t have a gift for anything. Iâ€™ve only had a gift of pursuit.â€
It was â€œColor of Moneyâ€ that finally won him an Oscar after eight nominations for what many think were more worthy films. Yet the Academy had to honor, and make amends for past oversights, one of the actors that defined a whole age. After finally winning the Academy Award in 1997, he said â€œIâ€™m on a roll now, and maybe now I can get a job.â€
His movies will live on in our hearts and on cable TV, but his salad dressing and popcorn will also pay tribute to the man, his perseverance and savvy. What started as a Christmas gift of homemade salad dressing to friends is now a food empire and part of the money the now-diversified group earns goes to help cancer research and other causes.
â€œHe was one of the last great 20th century movie stars, but he was the primary in creating celebrity philanthropy,â€ said Levine. â€œHe did not make his charity money though begging or shaming. And people liked his products, not just a name on a box.â€
A U.N. ambassador to disarmament, Paul Newman was also a race car driver well into the period some might call old, but on him, it looked good. Newman died Friday, Sept. 26, 2008, of cancer, spokeswoman Marni Tomljanovic said.
Newman said in 2002 â€œIâ€™ve been trying to quit almost everything I do for the last 10 years, and Iâ€™ve managed to quit absolutely nothing. â€¦ I was going to give up my race team, I was going to quit racing. I was going to quit films. I was going to turn the salad-dressing business over to somebody else. And get out of politics. And unfortunately, Iâ€™m busier now than before.â€
But he was never able to quit anything he started, nor will we quit remembering him.