Paul Newman died today. Now it isn't really a shock (how we could not have helped noticing from the drumbeat of the tabloids), but it is the passing of an era. There are few people left that we can truly call Movie Stars and he was one of them. A career that spanned more than 50 years, with achingly brilliant work within each decade, blistering work that stands up today - Hud, Cat on a Hot Tin Roof, The Hustler (with Gleason....oh my god, Gleason and Newman in their prime), Cool Hand Luke, Butch Cassidy, and The Sting (spawning Redford, in their peak, together, the two most beautiful men alive, on screen), and Winning (from 1968, one of his few with wife Joanne Woodward and the film credited with turning him on to addictive high speed racing)...well you can see his carreer retrospective endlessly in the next 6 days...its not that.
He was like a great memory that lives from its initial instant with you to this day, effectively entering your conciousness....the first time I walked down Ave. Montagne in Paris.... the blinding snowstorm in Japan the first winter there as a child of 7 and how it blanketed the Camp Zama Golf Course and the woods with several feet of snow....waking up in the turret of Chateau de Bagnols outside Lyon....soaking in the pools of Esalin Institute suspended in the Mickey Muenig designed bath house embedded into the vertical stone cliffside hundreds of feet above the Pacific Oceon....watching the sun go down over the cote d'azur from the balcony of the Hotel Du Cap. Now past, we have that memory preserved in our mind with the ferver and intensity that inspired it. Now passed, we have the memory of Paul Newman the actor enshrined in classic films that define a cinematic epoch, and Paul Newman the man who defined humble self reliance and a greater heart for his fellow man thru his quiet activism and powerhouse philanthropic efforts, and an apparently extremely decent fellow who lived an extraordinary life and touched us all along the way...in measures both brilliant and emotionally resonant.