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



Next Stop, Pennsylvania Avenue or Famous Last Words

Going all the way. Photo by: Twitchphoto

As we await the results of the Iowa caucuses with bated breath or reflect on the outcome, it’s a good time to look back on other political seasons.  Take 1972, for example.  On a national level, Senator George McGovern, running on an anti-war platform, won the Democratic nomination through good old-fashioned grassroots support, but resoundingly lost to incumbent Richard Nixon.

In The Candidate, a movie released that year, Robert Redford plays liberal-leaning lawyer Bill McKay who is persuaded by righteous-sounding political consultants to run for Senator from California.  Although his Republican opponent has held the office for years and apparently has a lock on the job, McKay believes his campaign is a way of putting forth new ideas.  Nothing wrong with that.

McKay doesn’t mind losing, but he doesn’t want to be wiped out in a landslide. Slowly but surely he gets caught up in the political machine. He cuts his blond locks and trims his sideburns. He probably would have lost the moustache, if he had one.

With his sunny good looks and charismatic persona McKay begins climbing the polls.  He has an exciting way with words that resonates with people, even if he doesn’t offer any solutions.  Consider this speech he makes right before the election:

“The unemployment for this state is 8%.  Think of it.

The biggest, the richest, the most powerful country cannot keep its full job force working.

It cannot tend all its sick people.

It cannot feed all its hungry people, or decently house its poor people.

It cannot educate everyone who needs an education.

I say there has got to be a better way.”

Did I mention, his campaign catchphrase is: “For a better way: Bill McKay.”   Apparently, the simpler the slogan, the more inspiring the candidate.

When McKay wins, he’s dazed and confused.  He turns to his campaign manager and asks, “What do we do now?”

Now that’s a very good question.

© 2012 Susan Marg – All Rights Reserved