The night Paul Newman saved Pinky’s life: the revelation of a dramatic secret and “the jump into the void”

Pinky was a big star in Argentina when she met Paul Newman at the Mar del Plata Film Festival
Pinky was a big star in Argentina when she met Paul Newman at the Mar del Plata Film Festival

It is known that several Argentine women touched the hearts of Hollywood actors. Warren Beatty fell in love with the incomparable Grace Borges when she was 18 years old: he called her every night at the hotel, but she never answered. At 20 years old esther goris refused to have coffee with Robert DeNirosomething he still regrets. Robert Duvall He fell in love with Luciana Pedraza while filming assassination tango: It didn’t matter that he was around 65 years old and she was around 24; since 1997 they are together. Matt Damon, fleeing from the harassment of some fans, took refuge in a bar. The salteña worked there Luciana Barrosowho asked him: “What are you doing here?”, and with his smile he fell in love.

Other loves that did not prosper but that dazzled were those that lived Lucila Polak with Al Pacino, Dolores Fonz with Gael Garcia Bernal (with Natalie Portman in the middle) and Soledad Fandino with Rene Perez.

But if it is about incredible stories, the one that deserves “applause, medal and kiss” is the one that lived pinkie with Paul Newman. It was at the Mar del Plata Film Festival when she was the best known woman in Argentina and he was the best known and most beautiful man in the world. She protected him from fans of him. He… he saved her life.

Pinky, her real name is Lidia Satragno.  She, with her style, imposed television journalism, until then exclusive to radio (Photo: Cinefania)
Pinky, her real name is Lidia Satragno. She, with her style, imposed television journalism, until then exclusive to radio (Photo: Cinefania)

It was 1962. With her 27 years, a magnetic beauty and an unimposed intelligence, pinkie He was one of the most famous figures in Argentina. She had been consecrated woman of the yearpresented shows at the lincoln center and the Carnegie Hallstarred in plays, but above all, had achieved the scepter of the lady from tv.

Paul Newman was 37 years old and his beauty was such that when looking at him, other mortals felt like crying or dying. As the song says, he was “so cute that his face seems to hurt.” But in addition to his beauty, Newman was cultured, seductive, funny, sensitive and talented.

That year the 5th Mar del Plata Film Festival was celebrated and the protagonist of The cat on the tin roof he was the guest of honour. He came to represent the movie The Hustler. The channel where Pinky worked sent her to cover the event. “I was more scratched than a feather duster and Channel 9 had a very large investment in me, they were desperate. The manager came to my house to feed me in the mouth. The channel sent me to Mar del Plata to distract me”, Pinky told Mariana Fabbiani, more than five decades later.

Travel with micu, a friend, but as soon as they arrived they were informed that the “microlin” -the cable that was needed to transmit- did not work. Without unpacking the suitcase, Pinky decided to return to Buenos Aires, but her friend convinced her to stay. It’s that the possibility of being with great figures, seeing good movies and attending events would tempt anyone, but not Pinky, that all she wanted was to be in her house, alone and calm.

That noon there was a lunch at the Golf Club, and Micú proposed a deal: “Let’s go, and then we’ll come back”. Pinky agreed. Upon arrival she tried to go unnoticed. Although he seems unusual, sometimes famous people need to stop being so, at least for a moment. She slipped to the back of the room, someone from the organization discovered her and began to shout for her to sit at the head of the big table. She stood where she was asked and began to chat with her friend. And suddenly silence. Micú stopped talking, fell silent, didn’t blink, didn’t move. She was speechless as if she had seen something supernatural. And boy, did she see it: it was Paul Newman himself who asked to sit next to them. Imagine the reader that moment. And if you have trouble imagining it, look at these images for a moment and ask yourself what you would have done if this man asked if he could sit next to him…

With looks but also talent, Paul Newman was one of the great actors in the history of cinema
With looks but also talent, Paul Newman was one of the great actors in the history of cinema

The biggest Hollywood star was placed next to the great Argentine star. They chatted like two strangers who know each other. They talked about cinema, politics, life. In a gesture more of humility than vanity, Pinky asked for the help of a translator; she was fluent in English but she didn’t want to expose her accent. They continued the talk on the terrace, they took some photos. They went for a walk, Newman asked her to attend an exhibition that she would give at night, Pinky told her no, that she was going back to Buenos Aires. But her friend kicked her ankle and whispered in her ear: “OK, don’t be rude.” Pinky accepted. She did not know that hers would be her ticket to 15 days that she would not only never forget; besides, she would save his life.

From that moment on, Newman went to all the events accompanied by the journalist. That same night, Pinky understood why the actor had chosen her: he told him that when he appeared with her, everyone made way and, fundamentally, no one jumped on him. It is that beautiful, successful and famous, together, more than passion, aroused reverence. Like medieval kings. Or those talented beings who in their wake arouse in us contemplation more than admiration.

Newman, like the real stars, was kind to everyone, likeable, and although he liked dealing with people, he did not like being harassed. Pinky was a great bodyguard.

Graciela Borges and Paul Newman traveling together in the "star train" from Buenos Aires to Mar del Plata in 1962 (Photo: Film&Arts)
Graciela Borges and Paul Newman traveling together on the “star train” from Buenos Aires to Mar del Plata in 1962 (Photo: Film&Arts)

The press soon spoke of romance. “He was a delicious being. Whether or not there was love, I’m not going to tell because he meant a lot in my life. He was like my saving angel”, Pinky would say in an autobiographical note from 2008. That savior angel appeared the last night they spent together. The Festival was over and the actor was waiting for his flight to New York. As a farewell, with a group of friends they decided to go to a disco. It was in the dark of night that the man with the eyes of the sky discovered the great secret of the woman that captivated him.

While trying to cross a street, a car ran over them. To prevent Pinky from being run over, Paul took her arm, gripped her wrists tightly, pushed her away, and realized that that girl, living cost her life. “I was having such a bad time. a few weeks before I had tried to take my own life, and so I lived covering my wrists wearing long sleeves and gloves. Paul realized that something was wrong with me”, Pinky would reveal many years, and many tears later.

He took her under a lantern. He asked, she fell silent. He asked the others to leave her, that he would take her to her house. The others smiled, they imagined the imaginable, but not the unimaginable horror that this girl who seemed to have everything was experiencing. Paul and Pinky got into a car, he asked the driver to take them for a long ride through that city so unknown but that subjugated and -intuited- healed.

To this day, Pinky defines Paul Newman as his "savior angel"
To this day, Pinky defines Paul Newman as his “saving angel.”

Sitting in the back seat, he spoke, she listened, because even when desperate there is always room for hope. Paul told her that what she felt and could not control was the strange sensation that one feels when passing from applause, praise and recognition to the deepest loneliness.. He called that hole in the soul that makes us feel more raw than alive “the leap into the void.”

It did not stop at the diagnosis. She told him that the way out of that feeling was not alcohol, drugs, or suicide, but facing that reality and wondering if one can and is willing to put up with it or not. She assured him that loneliness only appeared from time to time. Ella pinky knew that he knew because she felt it too and not because they had told her.

They fell silent, the car drove around a few more times, he dropped her off at her hotel. “I never imagined that a person who came from the other side of the world would change my way of understanding and coping with the ups and downs of fame so completely. It was as if someone had somehow wanted to get me out of the madness I was experiencing. If so, they couldn’t have sent me someone more attractive”.

Paul Newman, in the 60s (Photo: Getty Images)
Paul Newman, in the 60s (Photo: Getty Images)

They never saw each other again. “The he gave me all his phone numbersthe one in Hollywood, the one in New York, the one in Los Angeles, but I never used them. That was the deal we had. We told each other that an affair was something that began and ended, and was perfect and untouched. I was disgustingly famous and he, let’s not even talk about it: he was the most famous man in the world.”

Sometimes messages were sent through a mutual friend, but nothing more. Pinky was left with “the desire to tell him that he owed him his life”. One time when she went to New York, he found out about her and looked for her at the hotel. She was not there; she wanted to call him, she didn’t dare. It is that Newman was already in a relationship with Joanna Woodwardand we already know that when we play with fire and dance among the ashes, in the end we only end up healing our wounds.

Pinky continued to shine in everything she undertook. More than once she had to lead a television program and see a batch where a movie by the actor was promoted. At those moments, everyone saw that the face of the great lady of television was filled with smiles. More than one would think: “And of course, if you were with Paul Newman, how can you not smile?” What few knew is that she did not remember the actor, the famous star or the human god of overwhelming beauty. She only remembered the man who on a dark night lit up her life forever.

The women who marked an era on television: Mónica Cahen D'Anvers, Mirtha Legrand and Pinky
The women who marked an era on television: Mónica Cahen D’Anvers, Mirtha Legrand and Pinky


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