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The coolest man on the planet died this weekend.
Sure, Paul Newman had all the outward accoutrements of cool: the mesmerizing blue eyes, the charming smile, the fame, the wealth, the love of car-racing. But what really made him cool was his character.
Here was a man who was still a heartthrob into his 80s, yet was married to the same woman–and by all accounts, a faithful and adoring husband–for more than half a century. His face was so famous that he could have made millions in marketing it outside of movies, but instead he used it to sell an ever-growing line of food products, with all of the profits (more than $200 million!) going to charity. And despite all his achievements, he was humble and self-effacing. Nate Bloom sent me this passage from a Los Angeles Time article on his death:
Bloom points out that it is appropriate that the quote came from Trillin, who, like Newman, came from an interfaith family. Newman’s father was Jewish and owned a sporting goods store in Shaker Heights, Ohio; his mother was a Hungarian-descended Catholic who converted to Christian Science when Newman was 5. As Bloom said:
Via his role as Ari Ben-Canaan in Exodus, he did as much as any U.S. president to cement the emotional attachment and loyalty Americans have toward Israel. His Jewish practice may have been non-existent and his Jewish identity tenuous, but he exemplified all the values that Jews hold dear.
Few have lived as fulfilling a life as Paul Newman. My life is a little less fulfilling without him.
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