ABC’s Good
America is one of those shows that
broadcasts to folks a couple generations ahead of me. People who saw The Sting
and Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid in their first runs. This might, in
part, explain why Paul Newman chose a relatively quiet appearance on the show
last last week to announce his retirement from acting. I had to read it in a fancy rag like
The Guardian.

This is a
bold move. Most people would just stop without saying anything. We don’t treat
our elderly well in
America, and there’s no faster road to
unwanted sympathy than admitting you can no longer get the job done. Must be an
even more difficult thing to undertake when your five-decade career has
powerhouse material like Cat on a Hot Tin Roof on one end and still commanding
appearances like Road To Perdition at the other.

actors have retired and stuck with it – Joseph Cotton comes to mind – but Newman
is likely a man of his word. Walking away is not an easy thing to do, and no
matter how off the cuff his decision may seem (Good Morning America?) this
doesn’t seem like something he’d undertake lightly. And, of course, the retirement
announcement pertains only to films – Newman is still engaged in his food
venture and philanthropic work.

Just a
year ago, Newman talked up vague plans for another feature, which even then he
identified as his last hurrah. But his comments on GMA make plain that he feels
he doesn’t have the chops to make that film happen.

not able to work anymore… at the level that I would want to. You start to
lose your memory, you start to lose your confidence, you start to lose your
" In case you think he’s not quite serious, his final statement on
the subject is plain: "So I think that’s pretty much a closed book for me."

If Newman
follows through on his intent to step away from the screen, Cars will be left
as his final picture, but we’ll always have Road To Perdition as his last
live-action movie role, and
Empire Falls as a satisfying televised coda.