The passing of Paul Newman reminds me of the time I ran into him--literally--in a New York City art store, turning a corner around a counter. I remember thinking, "That's the skinniest man I've ever seen." And he wasn't all that tall either.
Now, New Yorkers are cool (even transplants like me): they're not going to make a fuss over anything or anyone, no exceptions (that I know of). It was interesting, though. He left the store before I did. When I left, and turned to walk down West 57th Street, he was about 25 yards in front of me. No, I was not following him!
Here's what I noticed. You know how a powerboat cutting through the water leaves a wake? Water spreads out to either side and behind the boat. Paul Newman left a wake! No one was going to rush up to him or try to talk to him, or even acknowledge him (where he could see it). But off to the side and behind him there was a spreading buzz. "Bzzz-bzzzz-bzzzz-that was Paul Newman."
Bzzz-bzzzz-bzzzz. All down 57th Street.
I've been out and about with celebrities, people who got noticed, but never anyone on a level with Paul Newman. I wondered then, and I wonder still, if that sort of fame is more curse than blessing.
A couple of people I know had contact with him over the years: media professionals who dealt with him in the world of acting or in the world of motor sports. The spoke of him as a solid, decent guy. His charity work bears that out. And I'm hard-pressed to think of an actor who appeared in more flat-out entertaining films, ever! Butch, and Hud, and Fast Eddie and Luke. We can repeat lines from all of them.
Just a quick remembrance, nothing special. But apparently he was very special.
By the way: anyone out there know that he was from Cleveland? His family founded and ran the first large sporting goods store in the city, Newman-Stern, for many years. It's gone now. Paul Newman, too. Thanks.