Was absolutely gutted to hear the news on Sunday morning that Paul Newman had died. He was the first movie star I ever had a crush on - in fact when I was 14 I was absolutely convinced I was going to marry him, never mind that he was several decades older and happily wed to Joanne Woodward (sorry, Joanne!).
I sat through The Towering Inferno at the Shepherd's Bush Odeon four times in one afternoon just to oggle him and Steve McQueen being all sweaty and heroic - and let me tell you that was one bum-numbing movie (Robert Wagner trying to run through an inferno with a wet tea-towel on his head anyone!). So I feel I proved my devotion. Then I realised what a superb actor he really was watching Somebody Up There Likes Me, Hud (imagine someone like Tom Cruise having the courage to play such an irredeemable bastard these days, not flipping likely) and The Hustler and Cool Hand Luke. But the movie that really sunk me, and has inspired me ever since when writing my bad boy heroes has to be The Long Hot Summer.
He plays Ben Quick, gorgeous, reckless, bad to the bone (or so you think) but actually wounded and haunted and misunderstood and in need of some good loving and who better to provide it than the young Joanne Woodward. The sparks fly off them in this movie and let us know just why they stayed married for 50 years. Just watch that final scene, it'll make you swoon. Who says happy ever after doesn't exist in real life.
I absolutely loved this man - his politics, his generosity, his anti-showbusy ways, not to mention those killer blue eyes, and I even forgave him his obsession with motor racing — and I don't care if that makes me sound like a deranged stalker.
Bye Paul, I'm gonna miss you.