Day 102: Newman’s Own

Paul Newman as Cool Hand Luke.

Paul Newman as Cool Hand Luke.

The day started off well with a hearty, “Good morning” and “Thank you” to my bus driver. I might have been a bit too cheery. I think I startled him.

But then I waited for everyone in my section of the bus to get off before me but this almost backfired when impatient passengers started to board the bus and I almost needed to wield a very unkind gesture in order to disembark.

What I was really looking forward to doing today was buying some Newman’s Own salad dressing in honour of the late Paul Newman.

This might seem like a strange tribute. Why not rent Cool Hand Luke or Butch Cassidy & the Sundance Kid, you may ask.

I was saddened by the news of Paul Newman’s death on Friday, after a battle with lung cancer, and although I loved his films, what I admired most about him was his devotion to family — when asked about infidelity, he once quipped, “Why go out for hamburger when you have steak at home?” — and to community.

My local store didn’t carry any Newman’s Own products (I will try another store tomorrow however). So as my own little tribute, here are just a few of the amazing things Paul Newman accomplished in his lifetime:

1. In 1982, Paul Newman, along with writer and close friend A.E. Hotchner, founded Newman’s Own, a line of food products. The brand started with salad dressing, and expanded to include pasta sauce, lemonade, popcorn, salsa, and wine, among other things. Newman established a policy that all proceeds from the sale of Newman’s Own products, after taxes, would be donated to charity. As of May 2007, these donations had exceeded US$220 million.

2. He co-wrote a memoir about the subject with Hotchner, Shameless Exploitation in Pursuit of the Common Good. [Love that title!]

3. Among other awards, Newman’s Own co-sponsors the PEN/Newman’s Own First Amendment Award, a $25,000 reward designed to recognize those who protect the First Amendment as it applies to the written word.

4. One beneficiary of his philanthropy is the Hole in the Wall Gang Camp, a residential summer camp for seriously ill children, which is located in Ashford, Connecticut. Newman co-founded the camp in 1988; it was named after the gang in his film Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid. One camp has expanded to become several Hole in the Wall Camps in the U.S., Ireland, France and Israel. The camp serves 13,000 children every year, free of charge.

5. In June 1999 Newman donated $250,000 to Catholic Relief Services in aid refugees in Kosovo.

6. On June 1, 2007, Kenyon College announced that Newman had donated $10 million to the school to establish a scholarship fund as part of the college’s current $230 million fund-raising campaign. Newman and his wife, Joanne Woodward, were honorary co-chairs of a previous campaign.

7. He was also one of the founders of the Committee Encouraging Corporate Philanthropy (CECP), a membership organization of CEOs and corporate chairpersons committed to raising the level and quality of global corporate philanthropy.

Now those are good deeds. Fare thee well, Mr. Newman.

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