Re: Paul Newman down to days to live; wants to die at home
Paul Newman is my favorite. Ever. I have been dreading his death for at least 15 years.
He has always been lucky enough to do good work, and he has always talked about how lucky he has been. It's so easy to remember how good his movies were and how freaking good-looking he is. But those things did come about by chance.
What has not been chance with Paul Newman is how hard he has worked and what good work he has done. The man is a brilliant actor, but you can see, when you compare his early stuff with his later stuff, how much harder he was working to do it at the beginning. The fact that he makes it look so easy later in life is because he worked hard enough to make it that way. He did all the work, all the back stuff, all the research, all the exercise, for so many years that it finally did come naturally to him. It's a great trajectory to watch from a career standpoint. He has always taken acting more seriously than I think people give him credit for, and he has great respect for his field while never seeming to think it above any other.
His charity work is unparalleled in Hollywood. Newman's Own is quite enough on its own, but he also started a camp for terminally ill children, the first of its kind (there are many more now). The idea of the camp is to let very ill children have the same summer camp that every other kid gets to have, and to be surrounded to kids just like them, so that when they have to head to a chemo session or ride around in a wheelchair, they're not the freaks. Paul Newman was involved in every aspect of building this camp, from the landscaping to the funding, and it is completely free for every child who attends. He does not allow the camp to to photographed or even publicized beyond the children it attracts. I would wager a fair amount of money that the man does extensive charity work that no one in the public even knows about.
And it may seem redundant, but he has just always struck me as such a stand-up guy. He stands up for his political beliefs in a well-educated, passionate way, and he is always learning and attacking new things -- acting, directing, business, charity work, car racing. This is a man who has really lived life. And has a seemingly happy family life as well.
I always wanted to meet him before he died and it looks as though that won't happen. But when I was 19, I was an apprentice at the Shakespeare Theatre of New Jersey. I was very young and inexperienced compared to almost everyone else in the company, and a little intimidated, but I worked hard and had a great time. My acting teacher was a good friend of the Newmans' and worked with them on some of their philanthropy -- although I didn't know that at the time -- and I mentioned at some point how much I admired Paul Newman as an actor and a person. From then on, every now and again, he used this to coax me on if I was having a rough time in class or when he was directing me. It was a playful thing, kind of an inside joke, but in a way it did help me to think of a person who worked so hard at acting, who attacked it like a job instead of getting freaked out by the personal digging you have to do within it. At the end of the season, when I met with the artistic director of the theater, she gave me a Newman's Own t-shirt and a Paul Newman-autographed Newman's Own cookbook. No doubt my teacher was involved with this, although he never let on, and it was as rewarding a present I could have asked for.
And the cookbook is hilarious. Tasty recipes, too.
There is no such thing as a pitching prospect.