1968: Vaughn builds ‘Bridge’ to Prague

Actor recalls aftermath of RFK assassination

(Monday) June 10, 1968

GOOD MORNNG: Robert Vaughn, emotionally wrung out after standing vigil Friday with Ted Kennedy at the casket of his friend Robert F.K., departed N.Y. yesterday for Prague, to start “Bridge at Remagen.” On the longhorn from N.Y., Vaughn said he had shipped ahead to the lengthy location (Sept. 15 is the anticipated return, but — ?) a box of audiotape. He hopes to bring back enough material for a book on politix, student impressions in a Commie country. Few in the western world will have experienced a stand of such duration in a Red-land. (Vaughn’s trained to observe, write). He’s also planning time between takes to complete his Ph.D. thesis, “A Historical Study of the House Committee on Un-American Activities in the American Theatre.” … (2008 Update. I reached Vaughn by phone in London where he is starring in the fifth season of BBC’s “Hustle.” He says he thoroughly enjoys playing the role of the hustler, Albert Stroller, and says “I hope for another season — this is a wonderful experience. We shoot all over London — six days a week.” We reminisced about the horrendous assassination of Robert Kennedy, June 5 in Los Angeles’ Ambassador Hotel. Kennedy was a close friend of Vaughn’s who was a strong Democratic supporter who had himself been wooed to run for California Governor against Ronald Reagan. Vaughn departed the political scene after George McGovern in ’72 … After the death of Kennedy, Vaughn recalled he was in the funeral train taking Kennedy’s body from N.Y. to Washington. “It took nine hours — because of the crowds of mourners on the tracks. It was the most emotional day in my life.” Apart from the TV series, Vaughn spends the remainder of the year with his family in Ridgefield, Conn. He is writing his autobiography, “A Fortunate Life” “with great humor — and respect,” he says. Among those he recalls are Natalie Wood, Ben Gazzara, Steve McQueen and Pat Kennedy Lawford … And yes, he says he did write that book about the experience filming in Prague. It was titled, “Only Victims.” In 1970, Vaughn received his Ph.D. in the Philosophy of Mass Communication. He practices it.