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Five Years Ago in Popular Culture: The Death of a Gentleman

Newman and Woodard 1960.

Newman and Woodard 1960.

Unflappable, Unbeatable. Unforgettable. Paul Newman, also known as King Cool, died five years ago at the age of 83.  Known for his philanthropic generosity and passion racing cars, as well as his stage and screen presence, his career spanned decades.

Newman made his movie debut in 1954 in The Silver Chalice, a historical drama, for which he later apologized for his performance.  No matter.  By 1958 he was one of the hottest new stars in Hollywood, going tête-à-tête with Elizabeth Taylor in Cat on a Hot Tin Roof (1958) and Eva Marie Saint in Exodus (1960).

Newman also went mano a mano with his equally celebrated male costars. In 1961 he appeared on the silver screen in The Hustler with Jackie Gleason.  Twenty-five years later he reprised his role as “Fast Eddie” in The Color of Money with Tom Cruise.

Fellow actor Robert Redford and Newman formed a special bond.  Their easy-going camaraderie, in evidence in Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid (1969) and The Sting (1973), spilled over to life itself.

When asked if he would make a sequel with Redford following Redford’s Indecent Proposal (1993), Newman replied, “”Like a rocket!” Then he added, “I’d shack up with anyone for a million dollars. I’d shack up with a gorilla for a million, plus 10 percent.”

Redford might not have been as pleased to be on a set with Newman again.  “He tells the worst jokes.  And that wouldn’t be so bad if he didn’t keep repeating them over and over.”

Newman’s relationship with actress Joanne Woodward also began on a movie set.  Their marriage, his second, reached the fifty-year mark, one of Hollywood’s longest lasting.  Although they briefly separated because Newman had an affair during the filming of Butch Cassidy, he famously paid her the ultimate compliment: “Why fool around with hamburger when you have steak at home?”

If those aren’t the words spoken by a gentleman, what are?

© 2013 Susan Marg – All Rights Reserved

 

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