By Dan Miller
September 29, 2008
I could hear snippets of several conversations from nearby tables at lunch on Saturday.
It was the day after the first big presidential debate between Obama and McCain, and that's what I presupposed everybody would be discussing.... but I never even heard it mentioned.
A woman sitting one table away from me obviously hadn't heard about his passing.
After a friend told her, I could hear her respond, "Oh my, he wasn't very old was he?"
"He was eighty-three" her friend answered.
The woman said, "My goodness, I just never thought of him as being an old man."
I didn't either.
Paul Newman seemed ageless.... and even as he gracefully moved deeper into his senior years, he was still the guy the rest of us guys wanted to be like.
His extraordinarily handsome face never stood in the way of his prowess as an actor.
In fact, he most often played against his natural allure by portraying a likable hustler, rebel, scoundrel or loser.
He once said, "I was always a character actor... I just looked like Little Red Riding Hood."
Newman never flaunted his status as a famous movie star.
He kept his private life his own....
But he touched, even changed, countless lives with his boundless generosity to those less fortunate.
His food company alone generated nearly $200-million for charities.
He never took a dime in profit from it.
In his younger years he championed civil rights, and was quite vocal in his opposition to the Vietnam War.
He liked to brag that one of his proudest achievements in life was making it onto President Nixon's "enemies list."
Paul Newman remained a charismatic force right into his twilight years.
It was easy for me to overlook that he had become an old-timer, because he never really stopped being Cool Hand Luke.
The impact of his contributions as an actor, and his passionate generosity as a human being, will resonate far into the future.