Robert Vaughn's Travelling LifeThis is a featured page

Robert Vaughn's Travelling Life
Interview by Sarah Ewing
2:05PM GMT 28 Jan 2014

Robert Vaughn, the actor, on his love for Birmingham, a touching moment in Barbados and falling foul of Venezuelan authorities

Robert Vaughn's Travelling Life
Caracas: AP
How often do you travel?
Until recently, my wife Linda [the actress Linda Staab] and I travelled quite a lot. But I’m 81 years old now, so I’m slowing it down a bit. We’re big fans of Florida – we recently took my seven-year-old grandson to Disney World. It was magical to see the expression on his face but all the bright lights and screaming children weren’t my cup of tea!
We’re hoping to do more short breaks though. We live in Connecticut now and when the kids were still living at home with us, we loved going to the Okemo Mountain ski resort in Vermont, which was a three-hour drive away. The funny thing is neither Linda nor I ski. We’d stand in the window of our chalet with a drink in our hands by the fire as the kids raced down the slopes. Everyone was happy!

What do you need for a perfect holiday?
Linda and I look for places with a real sense of history and good architecture.

Your most meaningful trip?

One poignant moment occurred seven years ago when I was on a Caribbean cruise and we stopped in Barbados. My father, who died when I was young, had lived his final years there. I went to the main cemetery in the hopes that I’d see his headstone for the first time. Not only did the old man tending the graves recognize me, but he was able to tell me all about the day my father was buried, as it was his first week on the job. Those memories are very important to me.
Robert Vaughn's Travelling Life - Robert Vaughn

Favourite filming location?It’d be a toss between Rome and Malta. I filmed in Rome for the first time during the Sixites and our hotel was smack outside the Colosseum. So when you threw back the curtains in the room, you felt like you were stepping back thousands of years in history. And it was a fitting tribute to Oliver that there’s a pub called Ollie’s Last Pub, in Malta, where he died while filming 'Gladiator’.
Robert Vaughn's Travelling Life - Robert Vaughn

Favourite city?

London. I first visited in the late Fifties, staying at The Dorchester, and have stayed there pretty consistently since. I was in London for three years filming 'The Protectors’ and more recently for another television series 'Hustle’. I also like Birmingham. It may not be the first city that comes to mind for tourists visiting Britain but I’ve been several times and always enjoyed myself there. I’m also fascinated by Dallas, Texas because of the controversy of John F Kennedy’s assassination. I first visited the location of the shooting before it had even been re-opened to the public in 1963.

Favourite hotel?
The Ritz in Paris. I first went there in 1958 when I was 25 and again in the early Seventies when I was filming a television series called 'The Protectors’. I was asked where I wanted to stay and I said, unflinchingly, The Ritz. Everything is as ritzy about it as you can imagine. I like its old school charm and elegance – I basically like everything old except myself!

Your most unusual trip abroad? Moscow, 1965. Earlier that year, I ran into Valeriy Brumel, the Olympic high jump champion, at MGM studios. He’d seen my movie 'The Magnificent Seven’ for several years running in a local theatre and said if I was ever in Moscow, he’d love to have me as his guest. I casually mentioned I planned on heading out there just after Christmas. Ten days later, I received a visa in the post! No one was going to Russia apart from diplomats at the time. I was there for a week, put up at a hotel in Red Square and there was even a nationally-televised press conference between us, such was the excitement locally.
Robert Vaughn's Travelling Life - Robert Vaughn

Your worst travelling experience?

In the Eighties, I was shooting a film in Caracas, Venezuela. But the shoot didn’t start off well. Normally, there’s a cast and crew cocktail party but there wasn’t one this time. On the second day of filming, I saw the Venezuelan producer from the film on the front page of a newspaper behind bars! The rest of us were put under house arrest and warned not to leave our hotel for our own safety. Apparently we hadn’t paid a large enough backhander to allow for a 'smooth’ filming process. The authorities demanded US$50,000 from me to guarantee our safe passage out of the country. My stuntman and I were driven to a remote, dodgy-looking office out of town where they magnanimously said they’d reduce the 'fee’ to US$25,000, but I stood my ground and refused to pay it. This impasse dragged on for four weeks until a woman in the wardrobe department hid me, Linda and Pip, our dog, in these ridiculous disguises and got her daughter, who worked at the airport, to smuggle us onto the next available flight, wherever it went. Thankfully, it was to Barcelona! We were terrified we were going to be caught!

Robert Vaughn's Travelling Life - Robert Vaughn

Favourite airline?
One used to be SAS. Back in the day when airline travel was a more glamorous affair, I remember their cabin crew rolling a silver trolley down the aisle to carve your food, steaming hot, with the chef right behind it. I also love Japan Airlines. Their first class seats felt like a little suite – attached to your seat was an enclave with a small bed. Sadly, I think they’ve done away with it because it wasn’t very economical.

Best piece of travel advice?
Always make sure you have plenty of cash, securely hidden, on you. If you run into any unforeseen circumstances, the American dollar still stands strong.

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