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Author Roger Asquith is returning to Tinsel town

By Weekend  |  Posted: December 10, 2012

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If you're looking for someone with a few stories to tell, look no further than Roger Asquith.

In Hollywood's golden age, Roger was right there in the thick of it, working as a showbiz reporter and mixing with such greats as Richard Harris, Elizabeth Taylor, Angela Lansbury and even Elvis Presley.

When he first arrived in Tinseltown, Roger was writing for magazines such as Jackie and Blue Jeans. He quickly gained a reputation as being a man to trust and eventually got a job doing interviews for Warner Brothers, getting access to some of Hollywood's biggest stars.

His glamorous LA lifestyle,  lunching with Elvis and counting some of the best-loved actors and actresses as his friends have left him with the kind of memories most of us can only dream of.

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But Roger's fascinating adventures had begun long before his time in LA, as his new book Cuban Trader, which is also being turned into a film, reveals.

"Prior to my time in Hollywood, I'd been a ship radio operator on a Swedish freighter carrying coal from Virginia to Germany," said Roger, who now lives in Gloucester.

"But when I heard about a job on a ship carrying molasses from the United States to Cuba, I jumped at it.

"After two years of ploughing through the freezing gales of the North Atlantic, I was ready for a change.

The warm waters of the Caribbean seemed a much better option."

But what Roger didn't know was Cuban leader Fidel Castro had begun his revolution  and he was sailing right into the middle of it.

"It was a very volatile time but I was totally unaware of all that," said Roger.

"Looking back on it now, it's hard to believe I put myself in that position but I was only 24, and you don't realise the dangers."

Roger's book tells the story of how, on one of his trips to Cuba, he was arrested for taking photographs during the revolution and kept in the cells for five days before being bailed out.

He also reveals that life on the ship was often equally as dangerous, as the merciless captain's poor treatment of some of the crew members led tensions to reach boiling point – leading to murder and mutiny.

"It was one of the greatest adventures of my life and one hell of a story," said Roger, who returned home to Gloucestershire in the 1970s.

"It will be wonderful to see it turned into a film and have that connection with Hollywood again."

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