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Saturday, September 27, 2008

Academy Award Winning Screen Legend, Paul Newman Passes Away at 83

Paul Newman

There is very sad news today about 'Hollywood great', Paul Newman, passing away. Paul Newman is arguably one of the best actors in movie history. He is certainly one of my favorite. He transcended multiple generations of film making and was never out of place in any film he did.

I had the pleasure of meeting Paul Newman and his wife of 50 years (something you never see in Hollywood), Joanne Woodward, 20 years ago. Working for Budget Rent a Car, I had the good fortune to be on shift the day Paul Newman reserved a vehicle. I was 21 years old and already a big fan of Newman's. Needless to say, I was very excited about meeting him.

I cleaned up the newest and best looking Lincoln Town Car we had, the night before. The next day I showed up for work and was surprised to see everyone who worked for our office also showed up; most of them weren't even on the clock. I was a little ticked off and embarrassed that Newman would have to walk in and see all of the people gawking at them.

About a week before, I watched a Barbara Walters special in which she interviewed Newman. He indicated that he was uncomfortable with a lot of attention and stated, after being asked weather it was true that he never signed autographs, that he never does. I told everyone this and they all just shrugged it off and some made fun of me for watching a Barbara Walters special. No kidding, it is probably one of two maybe three I've watched.

When he was schedule to arrive, I was to pick him up from the train station. I parked the Town Car in an area where there were not a lot of other vehicles. After about 10 minutes after the train had arrived and departed, I noticed that Newman had not walked out. I decided to walk into the station to see if I could find him. I walked all the way up to the platform and sure enough, he was standing there with Joanne Woodward, all alone. Until this point, it had not occurred to me that Woodward would be accompanying Newman but they are married to each other.

It was obvious, to me, that they were waiting for the people to dissipate. Newman was wearing a low brimmed hat and aviator sun glasses. He also had a mustache. I walked up to them and introduced myself and they were grateful to have help, when I grabbed their bags.

We walked to the car and I let them know that the Town Car would be their rental. He immediately bristled and said he had never driven a car that big.

I was shocked!

I thought to my self, 'you drove a car this big in the 'Color of Money' but I didn't say anything. I suggested that he drive it back to our office, where he had to sign it out anyway and he agreed. 'What could happen', I thought. It was only 2 miles away and he probably could afford the car.

Well...; Newman has a bit of a lead foot, probably from all of the racing he's done, and he took off out of the station pretty quickly. That was surprising but it got scary when he almost t-boned a little Asian woman in an intersection when he sped up to make the light. I'll never forget the look on that woman's face as I starred at her over the shoulders of two Hollywood greats.

As we arrived at the rental car office, I let them know about all of the people who showed up to get a look at them. Newman told his wife to wait in the car and walked in with me. There they were. Fifteen smiling morons huddled behind the 15' wide and 4' 3/4" high counter.

Newman signed the car out and sure enough one of the idiots asked him for his autograph. He looked at her for a few seconds and graciously said... "sure". Then we walked outside and gave the car a final inspection.

I apologized to him for the scene inside and thanked him for his business. I then said, "I wasn't going to ask you but since the embarrassing woman inside, who's not even supposed to be here, did; can I have your autograph too." He said no problem, thanked me for all of my help and drove off.

They were both genuine and warm and seemed as if they were someones grand parents. I always wished I had asked for Joanne Woodward's autograph too. True story.