An Anecdote about Paul Newman by Tony Piazza


   I thought I would get away from “Streets” and instead re-print a story I told one of the TCM fans the other day in answer to a question about Paul Newman:

Regarding PAUL NEWMAN– he was just one of the guys, and I have a story that will demonstrate that.

   We had been working on “The Towering Inferno” through the night at the Corporate Headquarters of the Bank of America building in San Francisco. The exterior, with a matte added on by the sfx people at FOX was the Tower you saw in the film. A model was also constructed at the studio for additional shots and the two melded together for the final film. Anyhow, we had been working for about 10 hours at the front entrance of the building (I was cast as a SFPD officer) and had gone into the lobby just before we wrapped that morning at 5 am (we had started the shoot at 7pm the previous evening). All the extras were exhausted. I looked up and Paul Newman was opening up a portable bar he had and was preparing some drinks for some of his fellow actor friends. He looked up and saw me watching- and without a second thought, asked if “you want to join us?” I declined- didn’t think my agent would approve, but was always impressed that he would want to have included me in his circle.

For this blog, however I would also like to add that Paul Newman was a great humanitarian; both he and his wife have donated so much to so many different charities- he is missed, both as a fine actor and a great human being.


   Regarding “Towering Inferno” I have a number of other stories to tell. I was fortunate enough to also get some stand-in work with the second unit under the direction of IRWIN ALLEN himself. I’d always enjoyed the imaginative features and television shows that he had been associated with, and so it was a thrill to actually work with the man. But more about that in a future post.


Tony Piazza is author of the 1930s Hollywood murder mystery novel, “Anything Short of Murder,” which had its roots on the TCM fan website. His next novel, “The Curse of the Crimson Dragon” is due out early 2012. He was an actor/extra during the 1970s and worked with such legends as Steve McQueen, Paul Newman, and Karl Malden.