No doubt everyone has heard, by now, that Paul Newman died over the weekend at 83. Cancer, by all accounts.
When someone famous dies, there's always that sense, from people who write about the person, that they knew them, or had some insight into the person that they are, but I won't claim that. I did like some of his films, though, and I always thought that he had a fine screen presence, even until his last films--he was the only reason to watch Road to Perdition, for example. Some of the older films, like Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid and the Sting were influential on me as a teenager when I was soaking in every kind of influence I could get, and despite the accents, I've always had a soft spot for Cat On a Hot Tin Roof, though this is probably in part because I've always had an amazing weakness for old Elizabeth Taylor films. Yet still, and this might seem strange, but the thing that I knew Newman for first wasn't films, but rather the sauces that were made under his company, Newman's Own, and which featured his face on the label. I remember seeing it as a kid, when my Mum did grocery shopping, and thinking that the label on it looked cool. The sauces were never all that great, though, despite the reportedly one hundred percent of profits going to charity. Still, the man was an actor, and I never really held the dodgy sauces against him.