Paul Newman Lives — At The Farmers’ Market

Westporters of a certain age remember Paul Newman as one of the most famous movie idols of the 20th century — and our neighbor.

The man. The legend. The US postage stamp.

Younger Westporters — and their counterparts all around the country — know him as a salad dressing, popcorn and lemonade guy.

Lost in all that is the fact in 2006 that Paul Newman — who, don’t forget, was also a race car driver, and the founder of the Hole in the Wall Gang Camp — teamed up with Michel Nischan to start The Dressing Room.

That superbly named restaurant next to the Westport Country Playhouse was Fairfield County’s first farm-to-table restaurant. And — thanks to the star power of its 2 owners — it helped kick-start a whole new way for local residents to look at food.

Here’s something else many folks don’t know (or forgot): The Playhouse parking lot was the original site of the Westport Farmers’ Market. The location was convenient and open. Both Newman and Nischan helped plant the seed, and watched it grow.

This September marks the 10th anniversary of Paul Newman’s death. To honor this remarkable man — one who during his 50 years gave tons of time, energy and money back to the town — the Farmers’ Market has created a special project with Newman’s Own. (The charitable foundation is one more of his legacies.)

Paul Newman often shopped at the Westport Farmer’s Market. He was a particular fan of the locally produced honey.

From 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. at this Thursday’s Farmers’ Market — and also on Thursday, August 16 — everyone is invited to share their memories of Paul Newman.

Newman’s Own will bring a life-sized cutout of their founder to the Market (now bigger than ever, at the Imperial Avenue parking lot). Video equipment will be on hand to record stories and tributes.

Clips may be shared by Newman’s Own Foundation, in a video and on social media.

Can’t make it to the market? Submissions can be emailed:

There must be a million Paul Newman stories in Westport. Let’s start those cameras rolling.

13 responses to “Paul Newman Lives — At The Farmers’ Market

  1. Brad French

    My favorite Newman story…
    So my neighbor Kim Curcuru was a year older and last class from Weston to go to Staples. Kim was a major nerd but had saved money and bought a Mach 1 Mustang muscle car new. He was involved with a movie contest at Staples that Joanne Woodward was going to be a judge for. They had gathered at Paul’s house to organize everything when Kim looks out the window and sees his car missing. Paul comes in later and tosses the keys to Kim. He invites Kim to drive his 454 Corvette but Kim can’t drive a stick shift. So Paul in just swim trunks takes him down Lyon’s Plains at over 100 mph.

  2. That’s a great story Brad. As a teenager growing up in Westport, my father asked my brother and I after our Thanksgiving dinner if we’d like to go see a movie (I was about 13 and my brother 17; in the 70’s) My father took us to the Fairfield cinema to watch the new movie released from Hollywood, “Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid.” I sat mesmerized by the movie.

  3. Oops my memory was a little off as I just looked up the release date of the movie and it was September 1969. So I was 11 and my brother was 15.

  4. Sharon Horowitz

    I grew up in South Africa in the 60’s and 70’s. We idealized Paul Newman. During High School, I immigrated to the United States and become feature editor of the school newspaper. Fulfilling an adolescent dream, I decided to see if I could interview Paul for a feature story in the paper. People laughed at me when I told them my plan. I had no idea how to contact him, and tried many traditional avenues, to no avail. I was about to give up, when but by chance, I was invited to a party hosted by Ian Warburg. One of his guests let it slip that Paul Newman lived next door, so I wrote a hand-written note to Paul and put it in his mailbox. The next day he personally called me. He invited me to the set where they were filming Fort Apache, the Bronx. I arrived under police escort. During the break in the filming — he invited me into his trailer where he talked to me for about 45 minutes. We discussed his views on parenting, why he never signed autographs, and his career. He said, “luck had every bit to to do with success, as did talent.” The poignant ending this to story is that my father, who was designated as the photographer, forgot to put film in the camera (no digital in those days). So, when we took the photos to be developed,the camera was empty. I was distraught. My father then took it upon himself to write to Paul, and said, “From one father to another, who loves his daughters, and would do anything not to disappoint her, could we please come back to the set and re-take the photos? This time with back-up cameras?” Paul said Yes!! So again we arranged for police escort to take us back to the Bronx. Today, I have the photo of Paul and I arm in arm –hanging in my living room. I’ll never forget the kindness he showed to a young immigrant teenage girl and her relieved father. I’ll happily attend the oral archives at the Farmer’s Market.

    • What a fantastic story. I’m sure they will love to add that to the collection. (I hope you brought Danny as your backup photographer on the second visit🙂)

    • A truly great story. Thanks for sharing it!

  5. Arthur Klausner

    Back in the late ‘60s through late ‘70s, my family had a house on Westport Avenue at Compo Beach where we would spend the summers away from the hustle and bustle of New York City.

    Saturday night was Date Night for my parents, which almost always meant a trip to nearby Allen’s Clam House for lobsters.

    It turns out that on many of those Saturday nights, Paul Newman and Joanne Woodward would be entertaining guests at Allen’s (often at different tables, for reasons I never quite understood). So over this period of time my Dad developed what he enjoyed describing as a “nodding relationship” with the Hollywood icon – they never spoke, but they would “nod” as they passed each other in the restaurant.

    It wouldn’t take much prodding for my Dad to tell this story (which was made even more fun by my grandmother’s claim that “Paul Newman looks like your Dad” — not the other way around, and not all that accurate!).

    Anyway, when in NYC my Dad liked to relax with friends at the bar at the Regency Hotel on Manhattan’s East Side. They all knew his “Paul Newman story,” and wouldn’t you know that one evening when my Dad walked into the bar his friends excitedly pointed to the back corner of the associated restaurant where Paul Newman himself was sitting along with a few companions. My Dad’s friends tried to goad my Dad into approaching Mr. Newman, but my Dad declined, repeating that it was a “nodding relationship” only. His buddies continued to rib my Dad about this throughout the evening, and at some point Mr. Newman quietly slipped out through some side door – and my Dad’s friends had one last chance to call into question whether my Dad’s long-standing Paul Newman story was in fact a figment of his imagination.

    A little while later, my Dad told the bartender that he was ready to settle up.

    And the bartender replied: “But sir, Mr. Newman already picked up your check.”

    • Perhaps the best Paul Newman story ever.

    • Carolyn Mohn

      Arthur: Forgive me for interrupting stories about Paul with one about another famous neighbor. How funny! Growing up, we spent our summers on Eastern Long Island to get away from the hustle and bustle of Westport (and my dad’s job in NYC. Pretty desolate out there way back then, but my sister was a mother’s helper on Dune Rd in Westhampton, and managed to get in a minor car accident with Michael Merrill. When she was alive, my mother always remembered spending the evening at Southampton Hospital with Bette Davis.

      Now, back to Paul……

  6. Carolyn Mohn

    In sixth grade, I went to a Halloween party across the street from Paul and Joanne’s house. During the party, Joanne stopped by with her girls and a gold mask on a stick. The mom asked what she was going out as, and she said, “A glamorous movie star, of course!”

    When our trick-or-treating was winding down, we decided to try a trick or a treat at Paul’s house. Wandering around the darkened property, trying to peek in windows, etc., and suddenly the front door light went on! Caught!

    A guy in a ragged “Danbury High School” sweatshirt & torn jeans with salt & pepper hair opened the door. On of my friends blurted out, “Who’s the old guy?” !!!!! (Paul had his hair grayed because he was filming “Butch Cassidy” at the time.)

    Despite that, he invited us in, chatted amiably with us for a very long time, and emptied his candy bowl into our pillow cases.

    He was a great man — and an even more wonderful neighbor

  7. Hanne Jeppesen

    I lived in Westport for almost 2 year 1967/68. Unfortunately I never saw Paul Newman, even though my friends and I would on occasion go to Allans Clam house. He is one of my favorite actors, and I have seen many of his movies, some more than one (Cat on hot tin roof, The long hot summer). I can only say he always seemed like a class act, and the stories above confirms that. I always felt it was a better world when Paul Newman was in it. He lived a long purposeful life, yet he is still missed.

  8. Jill Turner Odice

    Mr. Newman came into Sweet Pea while I was working there and bought a huge doll that looked like a hooker smoking a cigarette sitting on a swing. He wanted it delivered to his home as a gift for his wife. I wrapped it up in a big box covered with ribbons and stickers and brought it to their house. It was such a beautiful home, complete with a tree house for the kids…:-)
    Later while working at Organic Mkt, the Newmans were frequent customers. We sent care packages to Nell at camp and Lissie. They were always so polite when they came by the store. Lissie later made me a flower circlet to wear when I got married while she was working at Laura Ashley. I still have it packed away 🙂
    My older brother worked for a driving service that drove folks where they wanted to go in their own cars and he frequently drove Mr Newman and family all over. He liked my brother and invited us to come to Hole in the Wall camp, which we did. It was very impressive!
    He was known to not give out autographs, but did autograph a jacket for my Dad…What a great guy! There are more stories over years, but these were my favorite…:-)

  9. My first encounters with PN concern The Shoeshine Boys Foundation, which had been formed in the early 60’s to support the efforts of Dick Hughes in Viet Nam. Dick, an actor who was a conscientious objector, had gone to VN to see what he might do to aid the local population. Dick’s efforts resulted in the founding of seven orphanages for the so called “Dust of Life”. In VN terms, homeless street boys in the major cities, particularly Saigon, who existed by selling drugs and pimping for the US GI’s. Along with Bob Mc Cauley, who later founded Americares and a few other friends, we raised money and solicited ad pages from The New Yorker and other pubs to promote our efforts. On one of my local shopping expeditions in Westport, I ran into PN in the market and told him the story. He agreed to do a TV spot for us which, because of his presence, we were able to get picked up by a few network and local TV stations. Thanks to PN, were able to raise a substantial amount of money to help Dick in Saigon. And in his quiet fashion PN subsequently became a sizable supporter of the Shoeshine Boys.

    In another life ,PN and I crossed paths a number of times in the motorsports arena, but that will wait for another time. Knowing him, even in a cursory manner, has left me with the memory of an outstanding American. One we can all be proud of.