Paul Newman, Joanne Woodward

Nancy Kaszerman/

Thank you, Paul Newman.

Thank you for loving Joanne Woodward as you did, not just because lifelong love is a treasure unto itself, but because the example of your relationship was a charm against cynicism about the frivolity of Hollywood love. You two were also awfully darn cute.

Thank you for thoroughly enjoying your presence on Nixon's enemies list—pretty sure that's in the highest traditions of the American spirit.

Thank you for the condiments, and the supermarket glee we all got out of "Paul Newman! He has salad dressing! Can you believe it! What? And now he's sellin' microwave popcorn, too? Will wonders never cease..." The sauce was delicious, and the mission of the charity receiving the brand's revenues was heroic. (Psst...readers: Want to bypass the grocery store and go straight to the source? Hit up Newman's Hole in the Wall Gang charity online.)

And the movies...thank you, Paul Newman, for the movies.

Thank you for being the desert miscreant of Hud—that movie was Larry McMurtry's big entrée into Westerns, and we can't help but think that Heath Ledger was doing a little bit of Hud when he made Brokeback Mountain.

Thank you for Cool Hand Luke, because we all love muttering, "What we've got here is failure to communicate" (even if it wasn't even your line), and because, by god, you were cool and somehow you made the rest of us feel cool, too. Also, nice abs, dude. No shame in memorializing them here, because it seems like you just arrived in this world looking that beautiful, and yet you were still not the least bit vain.

Thank you for Somebody Up There Likes Me, for Butch and Sundance, and The Hustler and The Sting, Young Philadelphians and Cat on a Hot Tin Roof. Thank you.

Thank you for burning your tuxedo on your 75th birthday. We all missed seeing you at the flashy Hollywood ceremonies, but we surely salute the independence.

Thank you for sharing yourself with us for over 50 years. Five would have been an honor. Fifty is a treasure we could not measure if we tried.

Thank you for working into the last year of your life, because you had so much to offer.

Thank you for those blue eyes, and sharing them with us, and for never once losing your sense of humor about the whole thing. Did you really once say that your epitaph would be, "Here lies Paul Newman, who died a failure because his eyes turned brown"?

Not a chance, cowboy.

Thank you for being a great man, a great movie star and a great American. You did us all so very proud.

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