Paul Newman – one of the great Hollywood leading men of the last half-century – died yesterday of cancer. He was 83.
Newman was also a noted humanitarian and liberal activist. He spoke at a 1963 “freedom rally” in Chicago along with Dick Gregory, Dorothy Dandridge, Ralph Albernathy and Martin Luther King, Jr.
Paul Newman was the only actor on President Nixon’s original “enemies list.” (As that infamous list grew, it would include Jane Fonda, Gregory Peck, Bill Cosby, Barbra Streisand, Carol Channing and Tony Randall.)
Newman was targeted by the Nixon White House because of “Radic-lib causes. Heavy [Eugene] McCarthy involvement ’68. Used effectively in nationwide T.V. commercials.” I can’t find online any video of Paul Newman in a political ad. Maybe those will emerge.
But there is on YouTube a cool Hollywood artifact: Newman together with James Dean in a 1955 screen test for “East of Eden.” It’s embedded below.
I’m also streaming an audio clip in honor of Mr. Newman. It’s his final courtroom speech in the 1982 film “The Verdict.” Written by David Mamet, this is a beautiful speech, beautifully acted. Click here to hear it.
“The Verdict” and “The Color of Money” are my favorite Paul Newman movies.