["All the greats are going fast. Who's next? Karl Malden? Kirk Douglas? Herbert Lom? Joan Fontaine? Joseph Wiseman?" Your list, Harvey, is rare, great, and distinguished. It's possible some of us here don't know who one or two of them are.]
And that's a most touching anecdote, keats, which fits with stories told about how Paul Newman lived his private life in Westport, Connecticut. One resident said that he often came to the local [a rustic Ha-Ra Club?], in jeans, an old t-shirt, and tennis shoes, to drink a beer and eat a hamburger while listening to chit-chat from the regulars.
Over thirty years ago now, my wife and I attended a "site-specific" production of William Saroyan's Time of Your Life, at Spec's, a famous old bar in North Beach of San Francisco. The audience sat with their drinks, and the play's action erupted and crackled all around us. We were at the bar, where certain stools were marked with X's, reserving them for players.
Our places happened to be in an open block of three.
The bartender waved off several people who tried to sit on the stool next to mine, but just as the play was about to begin, an attractive, petite, woman in casual dress hurried in, nodded to the bartender, and sat on that empty stool next to me.
As Saroyan's wild 1930's goings-on wrapt us, I half turned to watch the action, more or less, forcing me to study the woman's features, as like a bird, she keenly followed each new "entrance", catching every impression. Shortly, I had the overwhelming intuition that she was Joanne Woodward, then at the top of her fame.
She turned her head toward me only once, seeming to sense my passing scrutiny. As our eyes met, it was the kind of moment that performers used to describe on late night TV of the time. She instantly appeared to know that I knew that she knew that I knew.
The play was the thing, however, and we went back to our parts as spectators. When the show was over, and the bar was "open" once more, I turned to whisper my surmise to my wife, but when I turned back, the woman was gone, as if she had never existed.
Later that week, I read in the Chronicle that Joanne Woodward had been in town for a charity event, and was spending time with her husband, Paul Newman, then making THE TOWERING INFERNO in Frisco.
That's pretty much the story, nothing as grand or intimate as yours, keats. Nothing so frustrating either as a similar "near meeting" with Orson Welles in the Lobby Bar of the St. Francis, a couple of years earlier, but there you are.
I doubt Paul Newman, aside from professional respect, would have gotten along with Orson Welles. They were of two different worlds, two different styles. You may remember, keats, in your meticulous scholarship, the Gore Vidal memoir in which he recounts how Welles, on several occasions, pled with him in regard to producing THE BIG BRASS RING: "You know Paul Newman. Can you put in a word with him? Because if I don't have one of the Six Bankable Boys, there's no financing."
It never happened. Doesn't sound as if there was much of a close bond there.
Yet, each was admirable in his own way.