One day I'd flown into Provo, UT, and was eating lunch with a guy who told me this story about a woman who worked for him, someone we'll call Jennifer (because that was her name).
Jennifer took the day off from work to ski Sundance, Robert Redford's ski resort. She was alone and joined by a man on one ride up the lift. As she rode, she glanced back at the chair behind them and was startled to see Robert Redford.
One of the reasons that Redford enjoys that part of Utah is that the locals give him room and don't cluster around him requesting autographs, photographs or even phonographs.
"Oh," Jennifer said the man beside her. "Isn't that Robert Redford?"
The man beside her looked back and said, "Yes, I think it is."
"Oh, this is so exciting," Jennifer said. "I have never seen him before."
"Yes," the man said. "That is exciting."
"Do you think that I should wait for him at the top and say 'Hello?'" she asked.
"You could," said the man with a smile.
"I don't know," she said. And she fretted aloud for a time before deciding to just ski down rather than wait. "I don't even know what I would say," Jennifer confessed.
The man wished her a good day as she skied away and as she waved to him, she began to wonder where she had seen him before. He looked familiar but she couldn't quite place it.
About halfway down the hill, it hit her. She had just ridden the ski lift with Paul Newman, who waited at the top for his friend Bob. I can only imagine that Redford and Newman got a great laugh out of the fact that she recognized Redford from 50 feet away and yet did not recognize Newman, whose face was only inches from hers.
Paul Newman died today, at 83. He seemed like a class act, turning his fame into a wildly successful non-profit business, a man who did not see a conflict between being an international icon and family man. That's sad news for Hollywood - and the rest of the world.