I met Paul Newman when he called one afternoon to congratulate me about the release of my book, The Lone Ranger’s Code of the West. He was quick to point out, though, that he did not make salad dressing nor had he worked with Robert Redford.
“My name,” he stressed, “is Paul S. Newman.”
Newman was a comic-book writer so prolific that he was listed in the Guinness Book of Records with more than three-hundred-fifty comic-book titles to his credit including Steve Canyon (above).
Beginning in 1947, Newman wrote more than 4,100 stories totaling about 36,000 pages – the equivalent of 120 mystery novels! Sadly, Paul died not long after submitting a response for my book, “What Do You Stand For?” in which he details an event that took place early in his career.
“As an Aristotelian, I believe that character is action.
“Perhaps, my actions are best encapsulated in the admonition of an ancient Hebrew sage who urged one to ‘Act justly, love mercy and walk humbly with thy God.’ Though on further examination, while I strongly seek to act justly, I am not too merciful in discovering faults in others.
“Years ago, I was sitting at a bullfight in Malaga. Despite the bull breaking a horn against the barricade, they let the fight continue. The crowd booed and many tossed their seat pillows into the arena. A Civil Guard, with his imposing black cockade hat, grabbed up a man one row behind me for throwing a pillow. Hundreds of pillows covered the arena floor, but he was the only person the police had started to arrest. And he was the only Black in the audience.
“He was an American serviceman who, under Franco’s rule, could not appear in public in uniform. The reason he was pulled from his seat was obvious – he was a Black sitting with a companion who was a white woman. As the Civil Guard started to lead him off, I left my wife and children, bounded up the stairs and began protesting.
In rapid, ungrammatical Spanish, I shouted that the Civil Guard had no right to arrest this man unless they arrested some of the others who also had thrown pillows into the ring but happened to be white. The black soldier told me to walk away or I might get into trouble. I was too furious to care. I flashed my American passport, which in those days indicated one’s profession. Mine was listed as ‘journalist,’ because I was then writing two, world syndicated newspaper comic strips, The Lone Ranger and Laugh-In.
“I told the officer that if he didn’t release the soldier, over two-hundred papers around the world would write up this incident, and I didn’t think the then ruling Franco would be too pleased. The Civil Guard released the GI. When the soldier asked how he could thank me, I said, ‘Remember this. Some day I might need your help. I’m also a member of a minority. I’m Jewish.’”