Only women of a certain era will fully appreciate this…. True story.
A Michigan woman and her family were vacationing in a small New England town where Paul Newman and his family often visited.
One Sunday morning, the woman got up early to take a long walk. After a brisk five-mile hike, she decided to treat herself to a double-dip chocolate ice cream cone.
She hopped in the car, drove to the center of the village and went straight to the combination bakery/ice cream parlor. There was only one other patron in the store: Paul Newman, sitting at the counter having a doughnut and coffee.
The woman’s heart skipped a beat as her eyes made contact with those famous baby-blue eyes. The actor nodded graciously and the star struck woman smiled demurely. Pull yourself together! She chides herself. You’re a happily married woman with three children, you’re forty-five years old, not a teenager!
The clerk filled her order and she took the double-dip chocolate ice cream cone in one hand and her change in the other. Then she went out the door, avoiding even a glance in Paul Newman’s direction.
When she reached her car, she realized that she had a handful of change but her other hand was empty. Where’s my ice cream cone? Did I leave it in the store? Back into the shop she went, expecting to see the cone still in the clerk’s hand or in a holder on the counter or something! No ice cream cone was in sight.
With that, she happened to look over at Paul Newman. His face broke into his familiar, warm, friendly grin and he said to the woman,
“You put it in your purse.”
The passing of Paul Newman was not totally unexpected, as reports about his health have been commonplace over the last 6 months, but it was still a very sad day. Newman was one of my very favorite actors, one of the all-time great film stars, and a lifelong Democrat. (Among many other things, devoted husband, dedicated philanthropist, etc.) His star shone brightly in Hollywood for fifty years, a rarity in film history, and his many memorable roles have touched all of us.
From the very beginning of his career, it was clear that Newman would be a different kind of actor, a different kind of star. His first movie was a flop, a Biblical epic called The Silver Chalice. Newman was given the star buildup, but he distanced himself from the finished product when he took out an ad in the Hollywood trade papers apologizing for the film and his performance. You would think that this would have been a bad move for his career, but there was no lasting effect.
His next movie was Somebody Up There Likes Me, a biopic of boxer Rocky Graziano, and it made Newman a star. The role had originally been intended for James Dean, but after his death Newman inherited the role. By the end of the 50’s, Newman’s career was in full swing, after twin triumphs in Cat on a Hot Tin Roof and The Long, Hot Summer. (It was on the set of Long, Hot Summer where he met Joanne Woodward, and one of Hollywood’s greatest love stories began.)
Newman gave one of his greatest performances in 1982’s The Verdict, playing an alcoholic, ambulance-chasing attorney. But he lost the Oscar, as usual. He finally won for playing Fast Eddie Felson in The Color of Money, Martin Scorsese’s sequel to The Hustler. As Newman grew older, it seemed like the only change in his appearance was that his hair went grey.
I know I’m just skimming over Newman’s career here, but it was extremely fitting that his very last performance was as a Hudson Hornet in Cars. Newman’s career and life were both truly remarkable, he was someone I had a great amount of respect for, as a great actor and also as a great man. He gave the world so much