The Cool hall of fame | EW.com

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The Cool hall of fame

Susan Sarandon, Aretha Franklin, Toni Morrison, and others are cultural titans who've kept up with the times

The cultural titans in this hall of fame have survived changing fortunes, changing record labels, changing tastes in heroes and hairdos and hardcover books. They have managed to keep up with the times and yet somehow remain unaffected by them — a cool trick right there. They’ve continued to do their work and be nice to their fans long after the awards have pilled up and the celebrity profiles have been written. They’ve overcome bad reviews and bad photographs and survived periods of cultural bad taste simply by being themselves and making it look easy. (We know it’s not). They deserve to be our first inductees into the Entertainment Weekly Cool Hall of Fame, paving the way for our nominees in years to come. This party’s for them. (They’re even cool enough to show up on time.)

Keith Richards
The voice sounds like a muffler on a bad day, and the once-taut face is lines with crevices. But after 30 years, no one swaggers — and play guitar to match — like the soul of the Stones. And no one makes the walking-dead look seem so desirable.

Ted Koppel
Big names and bad manners unnerve him not: He does his homework, asks smart questions, and doesn’t settle for dumb answers. As a result he gets his guests to think harder than they ever knew they could. He gets his audience to think harder too.

Susan Sarandon
The parts she plays, and the life she chooses, add up to one glorious advertisement for ripe, spicy womanhood as an adventure that doesn’t end at 40. She’s opinionated as hell. And — Oh remarkable thing in an actress! — she’s not a pain about it.

Aretha Franklin
Forget the bad soundtrack themes, clumsy pop albums, and no-show concerts. Lady Soul is still soulful, and when she lets out a full-throated wail, she leaves Mariah, Whitney, and all other diva-wannabes gasping in her dust.

Robert Altman
He’s the Hand That Slapped the Studios — and now they’re lining up to kiss his ring. But long before The Player, he was Hollywood’s most fascinating expatriate; through misses and masterpieces, he has kept his critical distance.

Toni Morrison
She writes gospel truth about what’s elemental in life, and what it costs the soul to get by. She keeps writing it because she knows what she has to do in this world. And because we can never read enough.

Paul Newman
Hud, Brick, Cool. Hand Luke. Fast Eddie Felson. Butch Cassidy. Choose your definition of a modern leading man and he’ll surpass it, surprise you, and — ever gracious — even supply the microwave popcorn.

George Jones
Today’s clean-cut Nashville balladeers may sing about wild times and emotional anguish, but the father of modern country has lived it. Even better, he has survived with his sense of humor and beautiful moan of a voice intact.

Bonnie Raitt
Considering her belated success, think of how vindictive she could be to all the music-business worms who once dismissed her. Now think of how she’s handling it with dignity and grace — plus she still plays slide guitar.

Ella Fitzgerald
Pure style, pure voice, and always a lady: When she scats, who needs words? Her language of swing is universal. And after seven decades, she has boiled down all of what’s cool in jazz into one word: Ella.

Bob Newhart
TV’s super reactor — a beacon of understatement in a medium of overkill. Next fall he’ll star — again — in his own series and probably continue to get more laughs with a cocked eyebrow than most comedians can mine from an entire stand-up routine.