CNN.COM READERS SHARE MEMORIES OF PAUL NEWMAN

JOELLYN MUMCIAN taped a photo of PAUL NEWMAN to the closet of her childhood home in Marietta, Georgia when she was approximately 12 years old. That picture stayed there. Even after she grew up and left the house for good.

Soon after her crush began, her mama happened to inform her that JOANNE WOODWARD had gone to Marietta High and that she was PAUL’S wife.

“It was a devastating blow. How could it be possible that someone ELSE from my little home town had actually married the man that I idolized?”

(Yeah. That would’ve pissed me off, too…)

A decade later, she was in California. She was buying groceries in a Malibu supermarket with her tiny daughter.

“I heard my little girl say loudly, ‘Hi, man!!!’ and I looked up. To my astonishment, I saw Mr. Newman standing there – blue eyes more piercing than I could ever have imagined – in his racing jumpsuit with his name embroidered on it and a case of beer under his arm.”

“He said to my daughter, ‘Hi yourself! Boy, you’re a cutie.’ Then he looked at me and said, ‘Hi, mom,’ before turning away, leaving me speechless and in awe.”

Director BRAD MAYS talked about meeting PAUL NEWMAN in the mid 80s in NEW YORK when he and JOANNE WOODWARD were looking to put on a theatre workshop.

“They came to the space I was working at at the time. They sat down, they brought a lot of popcorn and they were incredibly nice people. Paul Newman gave his time freely to the theatre artists there. He was funny and my God, he was one hell of a good looking guy! I think he’s a national treasure and I’m very sad that he’s gone.”

“He’s one of the great ones.”

PAUL’S generosity was also on view at Portland International Raceway in Portland, Oregon. He was offering rides in his race car there about ten years ago.

ALEX HART was one of those who jumped at the opportunity. PAUL drove him around at speeds of up to 120 mph.

“As we came to the end of our adventure, I turned to him and asked, ‘Can I just say that was bitchin’?’ He turned back to me and passionately answered, ‘That was bitchin’.’ “

LYN ST. JAMES of Phoenix also admired PAUL on the track. First from afar and then close up as she continued to race against him during the 80s. “It always amazed me that he was one of us.”

She explained that he came up to her on a scooter at the raceway one day and asked her if she wanted a ride. He gave her even more help later on when he donated $10,000 to PROJECT PODIUM, an initiative by WOMEN IN THE WINNER’S CIRCLE FOUNDATION to encourage young female race car drivers.

CHERYL McCARTHY of WESTPORT, CONNECTICUT (PAUL NEWMAN and JOANNE WOODWARD’S home town) recalls her meeting with the famous actor.

She was working at a LAURA ASHLEY store in the early 80s when they came in to shop.

“It was late in the day and, since I was in management, I was doing clerical work in the back room. On the way out, he popped his head in at the door and said, ‘Don’t they let you out for air?’ I laughed and said no.

“When I think of Paul Newman, I think of his body of work (how can the bicycle scene from Butch Cassidy not make you smile?), his philanthropic deeds and his blue eyes.”

“But mostly I think of him as a lovely man and a neighbour. I will miss seeing him around town.”

“Godspeed, Mr. Newman.”

6 Responses to “CNN.COM READERS SHARE MEMORIES OF PAUL NEWMAN”

  1. Last night our family sat down together and watched Cool Hand Luke.

    My two sons, both in their early teens, absolutely loved the show. The egg eating scene earned special praise. The line that stuck with me was when the inmates are playing poker and Newman/Luke wins with a bluff.

    When he receives congratulations, he mumbles: “Sometimes nothin’ is the only hand you have to play.” Nobody else could have delivered that statement with anything like that authenticity.

    God, the man was GOOD…

  2. Cliff, thank you so very much for that.

    Your story warms the cockles of my black cynical Irish heart. I’m so glad your sons enjoyed it.

    Yeah, we loved PAUL. Didn’t we…? Millions of us.

    It gives me great comfort to know that he was actually aware of all that. He may have been modest to a fault. But I’m positive that he knew that he was worshipped and admired by cinemaphiles and movie fans alike.

    He lived a wonderful life, gave a lot of stunning performances and made some great films.

    He will be missed. ALWAYS.

    Thanks again for stopping by….

  3. I have a black cynical Irish heart too. Worse, Northern Irish; I come from a long line of thugs.

    But regardless of background, race, colour or creed, Paul appealed to the rebel in us all. I think my favourite Newman role was probably the half breed in Hombre (written by Elmore Leonard).

    He’s more than a match even for the ultimate screen bad guy, Richard Boone…

  4. Very cool, Cliff.

    Ah, you’ve got the Northern blood. I bet nobody messes with you. Hee hee.

    I have a temper and I’m more than a little intense. I’ve become rather adept at letting the air out of people’s tires when they deserve it. So to speak. I’ve often thought I should be working for the IRA. My tolerance level is kinda low.

    Bet I’d be a crack shot.

    Seriously, that’s a rather brilliant observation. As a girl, I naturally have to admit that PAUL’S first and foremost appeal to me is PHYSICAL. I’d be lying if I were to try to finesse any other opinion. But obviously THERE WAS SO MUCH MORE to the man than his beauty.

    That was what made him so special.

    But seeing as I’ve always been rebellious (have yet to grow out of it – likely never will) I can understand that point of view. I applaud you for it, actually. I haven’t heard that from anyone over the last few days.

    But it’s true.

    He really DIDN’T play romantic leads. Not the classic parts, anyway. ROBERT REDFORD did. But he didn’t. Certainly there were romantic aspects to films like CAT ON A HOT TIN ROOF, THE HUSTLER, HUD and THE COLOR OF MONEY. But Brick and Fast Eddie weren’t classic heroes in that particular vein.

    HUD SURE AS HELL WAS NOT.

    He was more of a bad ass, actually. He was the classic film idol. One of the guys’ guys. Men wanted to be him. Women wanted to be with him.

    GOD, I MISS HIM. I can’t believe I’ll never meet him.

    Thanks for that, Cliff. Most impressive, original and fascinating on your part…

  5. It’s a poorer world without him, no doubt.

    This tribute was terrific. Well done!

  6. I’m very happy you enjoyed it, Cliff. But I can’t take too much of the credit.

    I’ve learned to reshape articles and to do a lot of judicious editing and rewriting. I think I like it. It’s kinda fun.

    But all of the pieces here (with two notable exceptions) were initially written by others. I just put in my own two cents and my own personal spin on them.

    All except for THE FABULOUS PAUL NEWMAN REMEMBERED and PAUL NEWMAN PHOTO GALLERIES. Every word of those is mine.

    But if my beloved readers find it worthwhile, that’s all that matters.

    Thank you so much, Cliff…

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