He was a hell of an actor, and as this piece notes personified "cool" for a generation. He was Cool Hand Luke after all.
But so far, and I'm sure this will change in forthcoming stories about his life, there's been only passing mention of his activism, especially in the way he made organic food popular. I was a teenager when he started his Newman's Own brand, based on the premise that people would pay a little more not only for a better product, but also if they knew the profits were going to charitable works, as opposed to the pockets of shareholders. And he was right. Newman's Own has been tremendously successful, has sent a lot of money to a lot of good causes, and has done a good deal to improve the quality of a lot of foods. The chocolate-mint Newman-O's and Fig Newmans are perhaps my favorite cookies of all time.
He was 83, and that's a good run for anyone. He did some good in this world, and that is perhaps the highest compliment we can give anyone.
Edit: I post this, then turn on CNN and they do an entire obituary based on this facet of his life. Glad to see it, and if I can find the video, I'll post it.
Labels: Paul Newman