R.I.P. Paul Newman

So I wouldn’t really make it a point to write about the passing of most celebrities but when I heard of Paul Newman’s death on Saturday I really got the urge.

Paul Leonard Newman was born on January 26th 1925 and died from lung cancer on September 26th 2008 at the age of 83. He was best known as an American actor/director but also had many other talents such as auto racing. Though starting on Broadway, Newman quickly made the jump to the big screen. He starred in such films as “Cat on a Hot Tin Roof,” “East of Eden,” “Exodus, “Cool Hand Luke,” and “Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid.” Though officially he retired from acting May 25th 2007 by saying “You start to lose your memory, you start to lose your confidence, you start to lose your invention. So I think that’s pretty much a closed book for me,” Newman will be forever be remembered as one of the greatest actors of his time. He left the business with a handful of awards and the respect of the acting community. There are also several colleges throughout America that celebrate Newman Day annually because of his many accomplishments in life.

What most people don’t know about Newman, and what I believe made him an exemplary human being, was his humanitarian venture – Newman’s Own. In 1982, Newman and writer A.E. Hotchner founded the food company with salad dressing as it’s sole product. Currently, the brand boasts a multitude of products having eventually expanded to include pasta sauce, lemonade, popcorn, salsa and wine. What puts this company a step above the rest is the fact that when it was created Newman established a policy that all proceeds from the company, after taxes, would be donated to charity. As of 2006, the brand had donated in excess of $200 million dollars. He also co-wrote two books with Hotchner – the most popular being his memoir about Newman’s Own entitled: Shameless Exploitation in Pursuit of the Common Good. Among the many beneficiaries of his charity/business are the various Hole in the Wall Gang Camps throughout the US, Ireland, France and Israel which serve 13,000 seriously ill children every year, free of charge. He also leaves behind many other philanthropic efforts and groups.

This man is the celebrity I wish they all were. What good is millions of dollars when you live in a world, in a COUNTRY where children die every single day on the streets? By starting a business separate from himself, he was able to raise a ridiculous amount of money not only while he was alive but for generations to come after his death. He’s no doubt changed the lives of millions of people and that cannot be forgotten, that cannot go without a deep thank you, a moment of silence and a “the world is a sadder place without you.” Here is to you Mr. Newman, such an inspiration to us all in every facet of your life.

To me, he truly put a face on and brought meaning to the Gandhi Quote: “Be the change you wish to see in the world.”

Newman was survived by his wife, 5 daughters and eight grandchildren. He also leaves behind the Scott Newman Center for drug abuse prevention in memory of his son who overdosed in 1978.

“Paul Newman’s craft was acting. His passion was racing. His love was his family and friends. And his heart and soul were dedicated to helping make the world a better place for all. Paul had an abiding belief in the role that luck plays in one’s life, and its randomness. He was quick to acknowledge the good fortune he had in his own life, beginning with being born in America, and was acutely aware of how unlucky so many others were. True to his character, he quietly devoted himself to helping offset this imbalance. An exceptional example is the legacy of Newman’s Own. What started as something of a joke in the basement of his home, turned into a highly-respected, multi-million dollar a year food company. And true to form, he shared this good fortune by donating all the profits and royalties he earned to thousands of charities around the world, a total which now exceeds $250 million. While his philanthropic interests and donations were wide-ranging, he was especially committed to the thousands of children with life-threatening conditions served by the Hole in the Wall Camps, which he helped start over 20 years ago. He saw the Camps as places where kids could escape the fear, pain and isolation of their conditions, kick back, and raise a little hell. Today, there are 11 Camps around the world, with additional programs in Africa and Vietnam. Through the Camps, well over 135,000 children have had the chance to experience what childhood was meant to be.

“We will miss our friend Paul Newman, but are lucky ourselves to have known such a remarkable person.”

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~ by Mathy Shoots People on September 29, 2008.

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