A. E. Hotchner, Writer and Friend of the Famous, Dies at 102


It was on such an assignment that he met Hemingway in Havana in 1948. Thus began a long friendship, recounted in “Papa Hemingway,” that included travels on both sides of the Atlantic, drinking adventures, manly and familial bonding and, finally, bearing witness to Hemingway’s psychological decline. Hemingway encouraged his younger friend to write and gave his approval to Mr. Hotchner’s adaptations of his works for television and the stage.

One production was a television play adapted from Hemingway’s story “The Battler,” about a young man — the Hemingway alter ego Nick Adams — who has been thrown off a freight train and encounters a punch-addled former boxer and his caretaker at a campfire in the woods. The boxer’s part had been intended for James Dean, but Dean was killed in a car crash on Sept. 30, 1955, shortly before rehearsals, and the role went to a young actor named Paul Newman.

“The Battler” was broadcast live on Oct. 18, and it led to Mr. Newman’s breakthrough role as Rocky Graziano in the 1956 movie “Somebody Up There Likes Me.”

It also led to a friendship of more than a half-century, which was cemented in the late 1950s, when Mr. Newman bought a house, not far from Long Island Sound, in Westport, where Mr. Hotchner had lived since 1953.

“We owned a series of dilapidated boats we’d take out on the water to go fishing and drink beer and have all sorts of adventures,” Mr. Hotchner told the London newspaper The Daily Mirror after Newman’s death in September 2008. “We drank a lot of beer and so never actually caught many fish.”

Mr. Newman had made it a holiday ritual to make batches of homemade salad dressing in his barn, pour it into wine bottles and drive around his neighborhood giving them away as Christmas gifts. Just before Christmas 1980, Mr. Newman was stirring up an enormous batch, with a canoe paddle, when he invited Mr. Hotchner to join him. Out of their small adventure came the idea for Newman’s Own.

Founded in 1982, the company has given away hundreds of millions of dollars through its charitable arms.

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