Paul Newman and A. E. Hotchner lived about 10 minutes from each other in Westport, Conn. The two men, longtime friends, owned boats together. “As a matter of fact,” Mr. Hotchner said Saturday in an interview, “a couple of wretched boats.”
They would go out on Long Island Sound, drinking beer and scaring the fish. “We were terrible fishermen,” he said. Then the motor would stall. “We’d get out there in the middle of the sound and then it would poop out,” Mr. Hotchner said. “The police would say, ‘Those two guys have to be towed in again.’ There’s this major movie star being towed in by the police.”
Remembrances of Mr. Newman, the actor and philanthropist who died on Friday at his home in Westport at the age of 83, poured forth around the country on Saturday. But few remembered Mr. Newman the way his friend and neighbor did in Westport, a Fairfield County town of about 26,000.
Mr. Newman and Mr. Hotchner, 91, a playwright, novelist and biographer, had been friends for more than 50 years.
In 1982, they founded Newman’s Own food company. One night just before Christmas in 1980, they made a batch of salad dressing with oil and vinegar. They poured the dressing into wine bottles and then gave them as gifts to their neighbors. “It was a lark,” Mr. Hotchner said, a lark that would turn into Newman’s Own, which has donated all its millions of dollars of profits to charities.
In 1988, Mr. Newman and Mr. Hotchner founded a different sort of enterprise: the Hole in the Wall Gang Camp in Ashford, Conn., a free camp for children with cancer and other life-threatening diseases. One camp grew into other camps, nationally and globally.
The two men first met in the mid-1950s, when Mr. Hotchner adapted an Ernest Hemingway short story, “The Battler,” for television. James Dean was to play the lead, but he had died in a car crash. So the director, Arthur Penn, gave the role to a little-known actor named Paul Newman.
“Paul was an unadorned man,” Mr. Hotchner said. “He was simple and direct and honest and off-center and mischievous, and romantic and very handsome. All of these qualities became the generating force behind him.” He added: “He was the same man in 2008 that he was in 1956 — unchanged, despite all the honors and the movie stardom, not a whisper of a change. And that’s something, the constancy of the man.”
Mr. Newman was the best man at Mr. Hotchner’s wedding in 1970. When Mr. Hotchner remarried last June, Mr. Newman was the best man again. “He’s the best man in my life, so why wouldn’t he be at my wedding?” he said.
Mr. Hotchner said he last saw Mr. Newman at the actor’s house in Westport a few days ago, when Mr. Newman was losing strength in his battle with cancer. “We didn’t really talk about anything other than some funny things that happened,” Mr. Hotchner said. “As I was leaving, I said, ‘Well, I’ll keep in touch.’ He said, ‘Yeah, it’s been a hell of a ride.’ I guess I’ll always remember that.”