Paul Newman, the star, director or producer of several dozen films, has passed away Friday evening from complications due to cancer. The actor was 83-years-old.
An auto-racing enthusiast, Paul Newman was the star of several Academy Award winning feature films. Some of his best work include Cat on a Hot Tin Roof, The Hustler, Hud, Cool Hand Luke, Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid, The Verdict, The Color of Money, Nobody’s Fool, and Road to Pardition. Although he started working in the early 50’s, after big hits with Cat on a Hot Tin Roof, Cool Hand Luke, and Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid, he finally found Oscar gold almost 30 years later with The Color of Money.
Newman was one of the few remaining screen actors of his time in the New Hollywood era. After the fall of the studio system and the invention of the television in the late 40’s, a new age of film was ushered in to American cinema. The change was significant. Some powerful figures and actors made it, while others did not. When this changed happened, America saw a change in film and it’s performers. Some of our best all-time actors and actresses came out of this time and they are normally held to a standard that is rarely met today. Paul Newman was one of those actors.
As time passes, the great actors and actresses of the “baby boomer” age are moving on. As an example of the league that Newman now joins, let’s look at the other greats of that time who have passed away: William Holden, Jimmy Stewart, Marlon Brando, Gary Cooper, Richard Burton, Burt Lancaster, James Cagney, Frank Sinatra, James Dean, Rock Hudson, Laurence Olivier, Spencer Tracy, Charlton Heston, Jack Lemmon, Rex Harrison, John Wayne, and George C. Scott. Those are the type of film personalities we’ll never see again. What we have left, while not a bad bunch, but are not working as much or retiring after long and successful careers.
Not for nothin’, but a great part of our movie history will be lost soon when the actors and actresses of the era of New Hollywood leave. Sidney Poitier, Peter O’Toole, Kirk Douglas, Tony Curtis and Albert Finney are some of the best that’s left. The proverbial torch was passed on to Beatty, Hoffman, and Redford and then along to others today, but losing the great ones will always leave a void. Treasure what they do today, because it could be lost tomorrow.
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