New York's Toniest Revel with Vaclav Havel, Their Czech Mate in Art
updated 03/12/1990 AT 01:00 AM EST
•originally published 03/12/1990 AT 01:00 AM EST
The highlight of Havel's two-day stopover was a celeb-laden tribute that attracted more than 5,000 well-wishers to the Cathedral of St. John the Divine. Paul Simon, James Taylor, Placido Domingo and Roberta Flack sang. Tom Hulce conducted the Cathedral Singers in the final chorus of Mozart's Abduction from the Seraglio. Gregory Peck read from a Havel speech. "I've been in the presence of great statesmen, and I've been in the presence of great artists, but I've never been in the presence of a great artist-statesman," said Paul Newman. Havel returned the compliment. "I'm very glad I see here Mr. Newman, who is such a big legend that I didn't believe he physically exists," he said. But the celebs seemed even more impressed that a playwright could become a world leader. In Havel, actor Richard Jordan suggested, the Czechs have a politician who will both "write his own speeches—and mean what he says."