Sunday, September 28, 2008

Remembering Paul Newman

My whole life I watched Paul Newman films. His cool blue eyes and often nonchalant, cool, distinctly American persona is imprinted on my brain from watching films like Cool Hand Luke, Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid,The Verdict,The Sting, The Hudsucker Proxy and Nobody's Fool. But more than that, I've long admired his charitable efforts.

While he could have kicked back, or used his fame for personal profit as so many stars do, he instead chose "shameless exploitation in the pursuit of the common good." The "common good" meant progressive social causes of all kinds--helping children, looking out for the well-being of animals, protecting First Amendment rights and more.

The Newman's Own product line started with salad dressing and every time you turned around it seemed there was another product--pasta sauce, lemonade, popcorn, salsa and more. Today there are over 150 different products offered by Newman's Own and according to the company, the profits from sales have raised over 250 million dollars for thousands of charities.

Not long ago I received some Newman's Own samples of organic products including pretzels and cookies. The one that impressed me the most were the Ginger-O's, spicy little sandwich cookies with a creamy filling. Crunchy and crisp and not too sweet, they are not only organic, but made without any artificial ingredients. For a store-bought cookie, they're pretty darn good.

More than just a handsome movie star, Paul Newman was a man who made a difference.