Well, I'm not able to work anymore as an actor and still at the level I would want to ... you start to lose your memory, you start to lose your confidence, you start to lose your invention. So, that's pretty much a closed book for me. And I'm grateful for the other things that have come into my life: grandkids, and restaurants and charity ... I've been doing it for 50 years. That's enough.
I'm a supporter of gay rights. And not a closet supporter either. From the time I was a kid, I have never been able to understand attacks upon the gay community. There are so many qualities that make up a human being... by the time I get through with all the things that I really admire about people, what they do with their private parts is probably so low on the list that it is irrelevant.
When the idea came up, (Newman's Own) I said, "Are you crazy? Stick my face on the label of salad dressing?" And then, of course, we got the whole idea of exploitation and how circular it is. Why not, really, go to the fullest length, and the silliest length, in exploiting yourself and turn the proceeds back to the community?
I wish I could recall with clarity the impulse that compelled me to help bring this camp into being. I'd be pleased if I could announce a motive of lofty purpose. I've been accused of compassion, of altruism, of devotion to Christian, Hebrew, and Muslim ethic, but however desperate I am to claim ownership of a high ideal, I cannot. I wanted, I think, to acknowledge Luck; the chance of it, the benevolence of it in my life, and the brutality of it in the lives of others, made especially savage for children because they may not be allowed the good fortune of a lifetime to correct it.
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Twenty-five years ago I couldn't walk down the street without being recognized. Now I can put a cap on, walk anywhere and no one pays me any attention. They don't ask me about my movies and they don't ask me about my salad dressing because they don't know who I am. Am I happy about this? You bet.
I'd done some acting in high school. Then I went to Kenyon College and got thrown in jail and kicked off the football team. Since I was determined not to study very much, I majored in theater the last two years. Got my degree in speech; they didn't actually have a degree in theater. I graduated at two o'clock in the afternoon, and at three-thirty I was on the train for Williams Bay, Wisconsin, for summer stock, and then I did winter stock.
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...." I was rather discouraged when I discovered that Paul and Hotch had no marketing survey, no business plan, no budget, no organized strategy for the introduction of the sauce. When asked about this lack of preparation, the haphazard nature of their business, Paul said, 'Me in this business is just part of life's great folly. Stay loose, men, keep 'em off balance.'"
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Now then, if we were to go the lowest road and plaster my face on the bottle of oil and vinegar dressing just to line our pockets, it would sink. But to go the low road to get to the high road- shameless exploitation for charity, for the common good- now that's an idea worth the hustle, a reciprocal trade agreement.
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I wasn't running toward the theater but running away from the sporting goods store. Of course now that I'm selling spaghetti sauce (with Newman's Own), I begin to understand the romance of business.. the allure of being the biggest fish in the pond and the juice you get from beating out your competitors.
Husbands and wives should have separate interests, cultivate different sets of friends and not impose on the other. You can't spend a lifetime breathing down each other's necks. We are very, very different people and yet somehow we fed off those varied differences and instead of separating us, it has made the whole bond a lot stronger.
The first time I remember women reacting to me was when we were filming Hud in Texas. Women were literally trying to climb through the transoms at the motel where I stayed. At first, it's flattering to the ego. At first. Then you realize that they're mixing me up with the roles I play — characters created by writers who have nothing to do with who I am.
I never ask my wife about my flaws. Instead I try to get her to ignore them and concentrate on my sense of humor. You don't want any woman to look under the carpet, guys, because there's lots of flaws underneath. Joanne believes my character in a film we did together, 'Mr. and Mrs. Bridge' comes closest to who I really am. I personally don't think there's one character who comes close . . . but I learned a long time ago not to disagree on things that I don't have a solid opinion about.
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