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Paul Newman

One of the true giants of acting has passed on. Others can and will do a much better job of expounding on Paul Newman's career than I'm capable of, so I'll just pass along this personal tidbit of my own. I used to play quite a bit of pool (more formally, "pocket billiards"), so much so that my first date with Julie took place at the Cue Club, an upscale but now-closed pool hall in Chicago. Whenever I played pool and found myself in one of those effortless grooves where it seems like you can't miss a shot, I would glide around the table after each made shot, sizing up the next one. And whenever I did so, I always thought of Newman's lines from The Hustler, as his character Eddie Felson watches in awe and marvels at the legendary Minnesota Fats (played by the equally incomparable Jackie Gleason):

Jeez, that old fat man. Look at the way he moves. Like a dancer...And them fingers, them chubby fingers. And that stroke. It's like he's, uh, like he's playing a violin or something.

And though nobody will ever call me Minnesota Fats - I've weighed around 155 pounds for twenty years now, so at best I'd be Illinois Slim - I've always thought of those lines when I'm shooting pool in one of those rare grooves.

Farewell, Mr. Newman.

September 28, 2008 in Film | Permalink