No Wonder Rachel Likes Him

 Posted by on September 28, 2008 at 7:07 am  Actors & Crew, Characters, Media-Web-News, Retro
Sep 282008

From the Babylon episode:

Rachel: Business?

Don: Turns out Israel Tourism is considering becoming a client and I’m having a hard time getting a handle on it.

Rachel: And I’m the only Jew you know in New York City?

Don: You’re my favorite.

Rachel: Jesus, Don. Crack a book once in a while.

Don: I have. It’s all sentimental — WWII trivia, oranges, kids in blue and white hats. They’re doing a movie of Exodus with Paul Newman.

Rachel: Paul Newman? That’s nice. Now I have two reasons to see it.

Now we all have a reason to see it.

This weekend, we lost one of the greats of cinema. Actor, producer, racing enthusiast, business tycoon, and humanitarian Paul Newman died Friday at his home near Westport, Connecticut, after a long battle with cancer.

Largely known for portraying charismatic loners who build emotional barriers that shield themselves from the hearts, minds, and gestures of others, Newman’s most acclaimed screen performances easily could have served as the blueprint for Don Draper.

Newman’s movies, while diverse and unique in and of themselves, are largely about the obstacles he encounters in attempting to find meaning and fulfill himself as a human being, often resulting in personal tragedy because of his…aloofness.

In their obituary of Newman, The Los Angeles Times described him as:

The essence of the postwar American man: cool, cynical and confident while the known world of traditional values crumbles around him.

I'm just wary.

Newman: I've been accused of being aloof. I'm not. I'm just wary.

If that doesn’t describe Draper, then I don’t know what does. It even evokes the title credits of Mad Men, doesn’t it? I say if you want to understand Don, you need to pick up a few of Newman’s films from the 1950s and 60s: Cat on a Hot Tin Roof, Sweet Bird of Youth, From the Terrace, The Young Philadelphians, Hud, The Hustler, and Cool Hand Luke are good starters.

“The history of movies without Paul Newman? It’s unthinkable,” asserts Martin Scorcese, who directed him to his first Academy Award in The Color of Money. “Unthinkable. It’s a great loss, in so many ways.”

I agree with this. Wholeheartedly. RIP.


  23 Responses to “No Wonder Rachel Likes Him”

  1. Hullaballoo, thanks for posting this. Beautiful. And totally good call!

  2. Hullaballo: Such a wonderful salute to a TRUE legend!

    Mr. Newman…Rest In Peace!

  3. Nice tribute, Hullaballoo – and very deft tie-in as well.

  4. Paul Newman had something a lot of Hollywood actors lack these day. Class, he was a class act.

  5. Class, dignity, ethics, altruism, talent, humility, and those eyes.

  6. I was so heartbroken to wake up yesterday and hear of Newmans death. I've always been a little jealous of Ms. Woodward to be honest. As a film history major it breaks my heart every year when the award shows play the 'in rememberance' videos, and this years will be especially sad for me. I recommend Cat on a Hot Tin Roof and Hud as my favorites, but Butch Cassidy is so great too.

    One of my favorite quotes of his that I read, he was talking about women asking him to take off his glasses so they could see those amazing blue eyes, and his response was "You wouldn't ask Bo Derek to show you her tits would you?" He had class, but he was above all a private person.

    I think his eyes were even better than Frank's….

  7. Paul Newman was a real class act. He treated his wife with utmost respect and treated his marriage with dignity, never talking about it to the press. I'm not saying he was necessarily a perfect angel, but I really don't see him lying straight to Joanne Woodward's face.

    Don Draper might resemble some of Newman's characters, but is no Paul Newman.

  8. Don Draper is a work in progress, and a cinephile. I can totally see him absorbing some of the traits from Paul Newman characters, consciously or not.

  9. i just jumped on here to see what was going as our countdown here has begun for tonight's episode.

    i was heartbroken when i heard the news yesterday morning. he was one of my favorite actors – thanks to my grandmother who introduced me to movies of the 50s and 60s. she named her daughters after american actresses, Elizabeth and Jeannette. she said that when she came from cuba, her favorite thing to do was go to the movies and see all the american hollywood stars….

    this morning we had our own little memorial to Mr. Newman, we watched Cat on a Hot Tin Roof. Such a wonderful character study of people and families in crisis.

  10. I can totally see him absorbing some of the traits from Paul Newman characters, consciously or not.

    Or at least identifying with them. Weren't a lot of Paul's characters, especially back then, wrong-side-of-the-tracks guys?

    I am so sorry I didn't see him in Our Town on broadway. I had really wanted to.

    And while looking for a scene from that, I found this, which fits in really well with hullaballoo's post.

    <object width="425" height="344"><param name="movie" value=""></param><param name="allowFullScreen" value="true"></param><embed src="; type="application/x-shockwave-flash" allowfullscreen="true" width="425" height="344"></embed></object>

  11. I had tickets to Our Town on Broadway! (It's also available on DVD, and I highly recommend it. You'll cry.) Paul Newman was a lovely man and his wife Joanne Woodward was equally as gracious. I feel lucky to have met both of them.

  12. I've seen just a handful of Paul Newman's films. "The Towering Inferno," with he and Steve McQueen, was almost too much "cool" on my TV screen! But it's the character of "Brick" in "Cat on a Hot Tin Roof" that makes me think of "Don Draper." Both "Don" and "Brick" are complex, brooding men, drowning their sorrows in drink and displaying this gulf of emotional detachment.

  13. Hullaballoo, thank you for the tribute. What a brilliant actor and human being.

    Roberta, thank you for the YouTube clip. Loved the images of Paul Newman, loved the tribute from Roger Ebert, loved the Johnny Cash soundtrack.

  14. "Don Draper might resemble some of Newman’s characters, but is no Paul Newman."

    Oh, right, Donny Brook. I didn't mean to imply that Draper is in any way like Paul Newman the man. Newman was a great man. His humanitarian efforts alone make him legendary. But when you add that to his achievements in other fields, it's astounding what he accomplished.

    But Don Draper does resemble so many of the characters that Newman brought to life. Characters that he enjoyed playing, and did so with great aplomb. In another thread we were discussing the idea of Marilyn vs. Jackie. Well, Newman the man vs. Newman the character might be the male version of that.

  15. ah, i just remembered his character in the Long, Hot Summer…..also an outsider from the wrong side of the tracks…the barnburner…..

  16. I have to disagree with Roger Ebert on one point, where he says that Newman's characters "aren't very likeable." I prefer what Pauline Kael said of them in her review of Slap Shot: "We like them but we don't look up to them…Newman is most comfortable in a role when it isn't scaled heroically; even when he plays a bastard, he's not a big bastard – only a callow, selfish one, like Hud. He can play what he's not – a dumb lout. But you don't believe it when he plays someone perverse or vicious, and the older he gets and the better you know him, the less you believe it. His likeableness is infectious; nobody should ever be asked not to like Paul Newman."

    That, I think is what links the Newman persona to Don Draper. In so many of Newman's signature roles, starting with The Long Hot Summer, through Hud, The Hustler, Cool Hand Luke, Slapshot, The Verdict, Nobody's Fool, etc. he played men that, by most measures, we should never like, selfish and self-involved men who often do things that hurt those who care the most about them. Yet we don't reject them. They represent every human weakness, but as Newman had the gift that great stars have of drawing us to him emotionally, we recognize all of our own weaknesses in them and end up liking, even loving them.

    Just like Don.

  17. It is sad news. I'm glad we have this tribute here, and the dialogue tie-in is so elegant.

  18. I saw it on PBS. I have to say it was not my favorite of the Our Towns I’ve seen televised, but Paul was magnificent. How cool you met them!

    And you’d have to be a fucking android not to cry at Our Town.

  19. Wonderful tribute.

  20. Great post. He was the true epitome of a fine human being. I cried when I heard the news. As a kid, we had a rule in my house that was only a half-jest – if Paul Newman came to the house, my Mom was allowed to run away with him (no worries, the same rule applied for my Dad, with Candace Bergen). My Mom had a t-shirt with an iron-on of Paul's face that she wore constantly when I was 11-12 or so. I've loved him since I was little for those personal connections, but also because of his grace and dignity. I think no one can touch him in the looks dept (Brad who?), but that's just me…The world is now a lesser place without Newman in it. I think his legacy will be his philanthropic works – he gave and didn't make it about him, like so many celebs do today.

    Oh, and Roberta, your comment: "And you’d have to be a fucking android not to cry at Our Town." hear, hear!

  21. Great tribute. I know it's been said a few time here, but he was a class act and a wonderful human being.

  22. I was sorry to read the news about Paul Newman. From what I knew of him, I thought he was a good human being who had worked hard and led an honorable life. Not easy to do, either in modern or old Hollywood.

    I liked "From the Terrace". It's not deathless art but it stars Newman and Woodward, and that's good enough for me.

    Also, my baby sister grieves the loss of this great actor. She met him when she was a Disney corporate intern in college — Newman would have been in his 70's then. Even at that age, his magnetism made my pretty blond sister (all of 20) weak in the knees.

    "Those EYES," she sighed. "I want to marry him."

    "He's already married," I reminded her.

    "Whatever," she sang. "He shook my hand. It's on." 🙂

    hull, thanks for including a bit of dialogue between Don and Rachel. See, that's what I miss about those two: the old sizzle of real chemistry. Always, in every well-written script, it's all in the writing.

  23. Anne, HAH!!! I think Deborah has a little sister like yours!

    And he was still beautiful in his 70s. It was really only the last few years that he began to look… elderly.

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