The Republic of T.

Black. Gay. Father. Vegetarian. Buddhist. Liberal.

Blue

That’s how I’m gonna feel for the rest of the day. Even when you know it’s coming, sad news is still sad news.

Oscar-winning actor and philanthropist Paul Newman has died at home in Westport, Connecticut, of cancer. He was 83. See the Los Angeles Times obituary here.

The actor was famous for films such as “Cat on a Hot Tin Roof,” “Exodus,” “The Hustler,” “Cool Hand Luke,” “Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid,” “The Sting” and “The Verdict,” but also for his many years of charity work.

Paul Newman co-founded the Hole in the Wall Gang Camp, with author A.E. Hotchner in 1988. The international organization arranges free camping experiences for children suffering from cancer and other illnesses and gives aid to their families.

More than $200 million, all the after taxes profits from his food company, Newman’s Own, was donated to charity over the past 15 years.

Yes, he was a good actor. Yes, he was damn hot. But that’s not all.

Just for the record, I was gay before I saw Newman in Cat on a Hot Tin Roof

He spent the whole movie walking around in his pajamas, and I think he only took his shirt off once. But, for me, he took sexiness and male beauty to a whole new place. Seriously.

But he was also clearly a person who didn’t let his fame or the privilege it afforded him blind him to the reality of people who didn’t enjoy the same level of privilege. He “got it,” in the sense that fame and fortune wasn’t “it,” so much as what you did with what it gave you. There’s his $200 million plus donated to charity over the last 15 years. But — and I’m sure I must have known this and just forgot it until now — when I came across this quote from Newman I realized he “got it” in more ways than one.

“I’m a supporter of gay rights. And not a closet supporter either. From the time I was a kid, I have never been able to understand attacks upon the gay community. There are so many qualities that make up a human being… by the time I get through with all the things that I really admire about people, what they do with their private parts is probably so low on the list that it is irrelevant.”

I don’t know when he said it, but that he said it will remain one of the things I really admire about him. Not one of the irrelevant ones, though.

‘Night, Paul.

One Comment

  1. Mr. Newman was also instrumental in getting the Gay and Lesbian Activists Alliance started in DC. See their press release here

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