1. What are you currently reading? Paul Newman: A Life by Shawn Levy. I'm not deep into this 500+ page biography, but so far I'm struck by Paul Newman's very ordinariness, and how he embraced it. Yes, he was an Oscar winner, a box office champion for five decades, inarguably the most popular of the Method Actors who revolutionized theater and movies.
But, except for his looks, he really wasn't exceptional. Not a natural talent, acting was hard work for him. He took his craft seriously, never for granted. Since he had nothing to do with his blue eyes, he considered being handsome a lucky break, just as he was lucky to make it through his Navy service in WWII without a scratch. He consistently seems to view himself as a fortunate bloke determined to make the most of the lucky circumstances he was given. Separate from his movies -- I'm a fan -- I find that I like Paul Newman.
I've also discovered the basis of his legendary philanthropy. Through one charity alone, Paul donated $245,000,000. Yes, you read that right. He worked as hard at growing Newman's Own into a not-for-profit powerhouse as he did at becoming a good actor. Why did he do it? It goes back to his mother's example. No, she was not financially generous. In fact, she was highly materialistic. Paul understood her -- she escaped poverty by immigrating to America and was determined never to be poor again. But while he loved her, her attitude disturbed him deeply and left its mark. Children in the US, Ireland, France and Israel are the better for his charity work, which goes on. (So buy Newman's Own when you get the chance.)