Everybody’s been doing their tributes in the 24 hours since the actor died, so I thought I’d offer mine.
My husband Michael and I used to live in Weston, CT, the town right next to Westport where Newman lived for years. He was never into the Hollywood scene. He was a “local” who didn’t take his celebrity too seriously. His house, while on a sprawling piece of property, wasn’t a movie star mansion but a charming white clapboard New England farmhouse built in the 1800s.
When Michael was in high school, he had a summer job delivering groceries for a neighborhood market – a job that brought him to Newman’s house one afternoon with food and several cases of beer. Newman was in his garage when Michael drove up. Here was this screen legend wearing jeans and a T-shirt and a metal beer bottle opener hanging from his neck. He was working on his Volkswagon Beetle, which he told Michael had a Porsche engine. He offered Michael a beer and my husband, never one to refuse an alcoholic beverage, accepted. “He was so friendly,” Michael recalled. “And he tipped really well.” LOL.
As for me, I used to shop at a gourmet food place in Westport called Hay Day. One summer morning, many years after Michael’s interaction with Newman, I was picking through a large basket of fresh corn on the cob when I realized I had grabbed the same ear of corn as someone else. I glanced up and it was Paul Newman’s blue eyes I was staring into! OMG! But that’s the kind of thing that happened with him. He was always out and about by himself. No entourage. No fuss. Just the real deal. And btw, he insisted that I take the corn. He was a gentleman too.