Jan 26, 2008

Newman's Own Special Day

  It is a rare thing that renders me speechless, as my many blog posts will attest (don't you care about Van Johnson's controversial 1947 marriage?!) - but oh, there is one exemplary specimen of man that does the trick every time. He is endlessly awing, heartbreakingly handsome, and I fear my entire romantic future suffers from a predisposition for disappointment because men, I'm afraid, don't come quite like this anymore. His name is Paul Leonard Newman.

  The venerable Mr. Newman - actor, philanthropist, salad dressing connoisseur, professional auto racer - may be celebrating his 83rd birthday today in his hometown of nearly fifty years, Westport, Connecticut. He may similarly be mulling over the fact that he and brainy big-screen beauty Joanne Woodward have been married exactly half a century, or that he's spent five decades in film, or even, perhaps, that his public is anxious to revel in one last collaboration between himself and frequent co-star Robert Redford, who is, not surprisingly, delectable as well. But in the presence of this rare man - his celluloid presence, my occasional daydream, or otherwise - I cannot mull over anything, so intrigued and enamored am I with the Aristotilian mind within the Adonis-like body (have you seen The Long, Hot Summer? Young, shirtless, flirtatious Paul Newman earns every bit of the Adonis title you just scoffed at).

  But beyond the beautiful facade over which I could rhapsodize for the rest of my born days, there lies the personality Newman presents to his public in sumptuous scraps: through his film characters, in his infrequent interviews, and in the family-oriented, Hollywood-eschewing way he has lived his life since the early 1960's. He is disarmingly witty, effortlessly self-effacing, and somewhere in him remain the traces of the rebellious rogues he played in his best-loved films like Cool Hand Luke and The Sting.

  Despite critical acclaim and a succession of box-office breakthroughs throughout the late 50's, 60's and 70's, it was during this same time period that Newman focused his energy on directorial efforts and pursued alternate interests, such as the auto-racing he performed into his late 70s (he owns half of Newman-Haas Auto Racing) and the food and beverage line he created, Newman's Own, the complete proceeds of which go directly to charitable causes and to fund the children's camps Newman and Woodward founded for children with terminal illness.

  So you see, I must be given some leeway with my fawning over this incredible man. It isn't just Ben Quick's broad, sculpted shoulders, Butch Cassidy's chiseled jaw beneath a cowboy hat or the way Fast Eddie Felson handled a pool cue that had me smitten from the outset. It is also Luke's insurmountable insolence, Rocky Graziano's downbeaten discontent, and Paul's perpetually enchanting persona. And, okay, maybe the eyes have something to do with it.

Paul Newman was born on this day in 1925 in Shaker Heights, Ohio.

To learn more about Newman's Own products, visit their website.

For additional information on Newman's Hole in the Wall Gang programs for children, click here to be redirected to an exterior site.

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