When I was in Nursing school. in 1982, I had an instructor who had the biggest crush on Paul Newman. Her name was Mrs. Enderle. She was a tiny birdlike woman, of about 5 feet nothing, and 90 pounds, if she had a big lunch. She was somewhere in her early sixties, but still a powerhouse. I had seen her go ballistic on several occasions, when a student screwed one thing or another up. She did not mince words, and told it like it was in no uncertain terms. We were all scared to death of her. But we liked her too.
She had lost her husband a few years before I met her, and rarely had a smile for anyone, unless she was talking about Paul Newman, then her little bird eyes would light up like a Christmas tree.
As I said, she had a major crush on Mr. Newman, and his name made it into numerous lectures on human anatomy, compassionate care, and even nutrition.
In those days, the Newmans would come to Ohio every summer, to perform, direct and sometimes star in theatrical productions at Kenyon College, Paul's alma mater. He graduated in 1949.
It had been reported in the news that the Newmans would be arriving in Columbus for their annual visit, and it just so happened that I had a good friend, who's mother was in charge of security at Port Columbus airport.
Through her, and a classmate who had an uncle who knew Paul's agent or publicist(I can't rightly remember the details), we arranged for a private meeting with the Newmans before they made the drive up to Kenyon.
A group of about five of us invited Mrs. Enderle to dinner that evening, with the ruse of celebrating our mid-terms being over, and to thank her for being our instructor. Initially, she declined, with the reasoning that she did not socialize with students.
We employed the Dean's help in convincing her, and keeping our little secret.
We headed to the airport, and Mrs. Enderle's questions were met with lies of having dinner at a restaurant there, because one of the gals had an in with the management, and our meals would be half price.
When we arrived, my friend's Mom led us to a small room, adjoining the first class lounge. We told Mrs. Enderly that we would just have a drink before dinner, while awaiting a table.
We had a hard time keeping her there, as the wait was about 45 minutes, and she was becoming impatient.
She was on her second glass of wine, when the door opens and in walks Paul and Joanne.
"Who is Marian Enderle?", he stated. I thought the poor woman would have a stroke right there. Her eyes got huge, and she turned beet red. Tears came to her eyes, and she of the normally booming voice, whispered "That would be me".
Paul came up to her, and took her hand and kissed it. "I hear you're a fan of mine?" he asked.
I could literally see her melt before my eyes.
They were both such lovely people. Not a whit of "celebrity" among them. Joanne Woodward is genuinely a darling woman, and ever so friendly.
Paul was shorter than I expected, but Oh, those eyes, bluer than blue, sparkling, and full of mirth. He seemed genuinely tickled to meet us.
They told us of their work at Kenyon that summer, and how they loved coming back to Ohio. Paul is from Cleveland, by the way. We all posed for pictures with them, but sadly, I don't have any of them.
We spent about fifteen minutes with them before they had to leave, but it felt like only a few.
Before parting, they gave Mrs. Enderle tickets to the performance at Kenyon, and Paul kissed her on the cheek. She swore she would never wash it again.
Mrs. Enderle was thrilled to meet her idol. She talked about it for months to anyone who hadn't heard the tale.
She passed away a couple years after I finished school, and at her wake there were pictures of Paul and her blown up for everyone in attendance to see.
I don't know if our little clandestine rendezvous made her happier in the long run, but it sure did me. It felt really good to see her smile.
And for anyone who thinks Brad Pitt, Antonio Banderas or any other Hollywood hunk is the sexiest man alive, they can take the title today. Up till yesterday, it was taken. By an 83 year old.
Oh, those eyes.
Goodbye Mr. Newman, you will be missed.