As Diahann Carroll arrived in Paris in early October 1960, she resolved to choose restraint over passion, logic over emotion, and responsibility over romance. She had given birth to an infant daughter and tried to repair her marriage. She had studied with the legendary Lee Strasberg of the Actors’ Studio, broadening her career and bolstering her selfconfidence. She had a dramatic, romantic lead in Paris Blues, a rarity for a black woman. Despite her continued feelings for Poitier, she steeled herself. “Perhaps,” she thought, “we could just do the work and leave each other alone.”1
Carroll deliberately checked into a different hotel than Poitier. Their impending reunion made her stomach churn. But when she saw Poitier, her butterflies flew in formation. At a script reading, they exchanged lines across a table with Paul Newman and Joanne Woodward. Afterward, Poitier escorted Carroll outside, and they discussed their past. Neither wanted to hurt their loved ones, and they agreed to end their relationship.
But this was Paris, where romance wafted along the cobblestone streets, in the open-air markets, on the quays of the Seine, and in the shadow of Notre Dame. “It was becoming difficult to separate our lives and our roles,” Carroll remembered. They played new lovers, and their scenes called for long walks and romantic talks. Neither admitted it, but they were still in love.2
Newman and Woodward might have recognized the situation. Newman had divorced his first wife to marry Woodward in 1958, and the couple had collaborated on three films before coming to Paris, where they stayed in a quaint Montmartre apartment, acting by day, exploring jazz clubs and bistros by night. They had a comfortable relationship. But Newman and Woodward shared affluent backgrounds, established Hollywood careers, and enough individual security to allow each other space. They were friends first and lovers second, quite unlike their confused co-stars.3