Actor Paul Newman died yesterday, he was 83. I knew he had formally retired from acting and was strickened with cancer yet I was still surprised.
"COOL HAND LUKE," 1967. THERE IS A TEMPTATION TO FIND PHOTOS OF ALL MY FAVORITE NEWMAN ROLES BUT THERE ARE FAR TOO MANY.
I won't be including a list Newman's acting credentials because its a click away on the information super highway. Plus, I feel his entrepreneurial savvy and devotion as a philanthropist speak for them self. Instead, I'd like to share with you something I saw a long time ago...that few other people I know have seen.
SINCE 1983, PAUL NEWMAN HAS DONATED ALL NET PROFITS FROM HIS FOOD ENTERPRISES...IN EXCESS OF $220M, TO CHARITY.
From 1953 through the mid-fifties there was a TV show, "THE UNITED STATES STEEL HOUR." This program featured live stage productions. In 1956, they performed an adaptation of the Mark Harris novel, "BANG THE DRUM SLOWLY."
THIS IS A PAUL NEWMAN AT A YOUNG AGE...BUT IT ISN'T THEE PAUL NEWMAN.
Bang the Drum Slowly is a metaphor for personal loyalties packaged in a baseball wrapper. Unlike the movie of the same name from 1973 there were no outdoor scenes. Nevertheless, its theatrical limitations served it well, by making the presentation more intimate, more sensitive and more stirring...because the overt theme was death and how friends rally together when the chips are down.
"BROKEBACK MOUNTAIN" JOKES ASIDE...FROM 1969, "BUTCH CASSIDY AND THE SUNDANCE KID." ANOTHER GREAT MOVIE ABOUT FRIENDSHIP.
In Bang the Drum Slowly, Paul Newman is the headliner. He plays an articulate, star pitcher who learns that his inarticulate teammate (catcher), played by Albert Salmi has a terminal disease. The play delves into the relationship of friends and/or co-workers and how...at any cost, unconditional support becomes the sole priority.
We can expect a lot of attention going to Paul Newman on the old movie networks this week. If by chance this 1956 production gets aired, you should make sure you see it. Also in that cast look for George Peppard in his TV debut as Piney Woods, and Clu Gulager too.
The 1973 movie version with Michael Moriarity in the Newman role and Robert De Niro in the Albert Salmi role should be easier to find. However, the movie comes off more like a baseball flick. Perhaps because it came out shortly after "BRIAN'S SONG," I think it was intentionally softened to a dark comedy...and to some people...nearly a full comedy. Nevertheless the movie's final message was...that when the players stopped harassing their dimwitted mediocre teammate, he, for one last season played better than ever. At the funeral the closing remark by the star pitcher was, "I'll never rag on anyone again."
The movie is pretty good even without Paul Newman. But with him in the United States Steel Hour production of Bang the Drum Slowly," it is far more moving and thought provoking. I hope you can find it. But literally, anything Newman, is bound to please.
NEWMAN REPRISED HIS ROLE AS "FAST EDDIE" FELSON FROM THE 1961 MOVIE "THE HUSTLER" IN, 1986's, "THE COLOR OF MONEY." HIS PERFORMANCE EARNED HIM THE OSCAR FOR BEST ACTOR.
Paul Leonard Newman January 26, 1925 - September 26, 2008.