Who didn’t love Paul Newman?

Often over-shadowed by his swoon-worthy, movie star good looks, talent and the “it” quality he possessed in spades were his humanity, integrity and decency.

He, unlike celebrities of today, was quietly but tremendously philanthropic. He co-founded “Newman's Own,” a food company from which he donated all profits and royalties to charity. As of January 2017, these donations have totaled more than $485 million.

He was a co-founder of “Safe Water Network,” a nonprofit which develops sustainable drinking water solutions for those in need.

Newman founded the “Serious Fun Children's Network,” a global family of summer camps and programs for children with serious illness, which has served more than 290,000 children since its inception.

By all accounts, he had a very happy, 50-year marriage to actress Joanne Woodward. They were not your typical celebrity couple. There was no “relationship drama,” no tabloid trash; they quietly loved, gave back and provided us all with some truly great cinema.

So, why this portrait of the man now? After all, he has been dead since 2008.

Have you heard about the auction of Paul Newman’s Rolex watch? It is quite a tale, which began in 1969 when Newman and Woodward appeared in the movie “Winning.” The film is about a racecar driver who aspires to win the Indianapolis 500. Driving in that movie with legendary drivers appearing in cameo roles fueled Newman’s passion for the sport; a fact which did not please his wife. Realizing that she could not talk him out of what she considered to be a dangerous, foolish sport; she bought him a gift to signal her conciliation. All that knew him well knew that he was almost obsessed with punctuality; a watch seemed a good option for her gift.

In 1972, Woodward bought a Rolex “Cosmograph Daytona” for her husband, inscribed on the back: “Drive carefully Me” thinking the style name appropriate for her conciliatory purposes.

As the press chronicled Newman’s life, the “Daytona Rolex” was in full view on his wrist in all the pictures. He wore it every day, on the track and off.

Fast forward to last month when the sale of that watch made headlines.

James Cox, was a friend of the famed Hollywood couple’s daughter, Nell. Cox was helping Newman repair a tree house on their property when Newman asked him for the time. Cox replied that he didn’t have a watch. Newman removed the Rolex and gave it to him.

Nell, now a biologist and philanthropist, is still friends with Cox, who decided the proceeds from selling the now-famed watch could substantially aid Nell’s nonprofit company; so, it was put up for auction.

And, $17,800 later, it became the largest amount ever paid for a watch.

James Cox said of the sale, “It was passed on to me in a gesture of generosity and it’s time for it to move again. Today the world is in chaos, it needs a hero that represents humility, generosity and kindness, and that is Paul. There’s a generation that doesn’t know who he was. We wanted to bring him back.”

Wendy J. Levenfeld is a published novelist, playwright and columnist. Send comments to wendylevenfeld@gmail.com. Visit Wendy’s website at www.wendylevenfeld.com.

(0) comments

Welcome to the discussion.

Keep it Clean. Please avoid obscene, vulgar, lewd, racist or sexually-oriented language.
Don't Threaten. Threats of harming another person will not be tolerated.
Be Truthful. Don't knowingly lie about anyone or anything.
Be Nice. No racism, sexism or any sort of -ism that is degrading to another person.
Be Proactive. Use the 'Report' link on each comment to let us know of abusive posts.
Share with Us. We'd love to hear eyewitness accounts, the history behind an article.