No high octane adventure could have prepared Starsky & Hutch star David Soul for his latest assignment.
His documentary, Cuban Soul, records the discovery of Ernest Hemingway’s long lost 1955 convertible Chrysler New Yorker, found in a garage in Cuba eight years ago, and its subsequent restoration.
Yet what sounds a gentle project has exacted a massive cost and threatened him with financial ruin and even imprisonment.
‘Making Cuban Soul has been my personal battle and has wreaked havoc with my health, both mentally and physically,’ Soul, now 77, tells me from his home in North London.
Though he retained his U.S. citizenship when, in 2004, he became a dual national by becoming a British citizen, Soul, who played Hutch in the 1970s TV show, assumed he could help bring car parts into Cuba without being accused of breaking American sanctions.
SEBASTIAN SHAKESPEARE: No high octane adventure could have prepared Starsky & Hutch star David Soul for his latest assignment
SEBASTIAN SHAKESPEARE: His documentary, Cuban Soul, records the discovery of Ernest Hemingway’s long lost 1955 convertible Chrysler New Yorker, found in a garage in Cuba eight years ago, and its subsequent restoration
He was wrong — and learned he could be liable for huge fines, criminal charges and even jail. He realised he had a huge fight on his hands, so hired specialist immigration lawyer Bill Martinez to plead his case.
And even though he has now been given permission as a U.S. citizen to bring in automobile parts on the basis that he is involved in ‘historical preservation’, he remains indignant.
‘The U.S. government has slammed the door shut on Cuba, interfered with her sovereign rights and bullied them for 60 years,’ says Soul.
The physical trauma included lapsing into a coma following a hip replacement operation. He was subsequently in intensive care for 72 days, during which he was twice put on a ventilator.
Soul (pictured) pulled through, but only to suffer what he describes as ‘huge personal financial cost’, as he continued his odyssey to restore the Chrysler so that it can take its place as a centrepiece at Finca Vigia, The Hemingway Museum in Havana.
‘In my small way I’m trying to redress the balance, and trying to honour the legacy of my favourite U.S. author, Ernest Hemingway.
‘Our movie is two thirds finished. We’re looking for completion funding for the last leg of our journey.’
SEBASTIAN SHAKESPEARE: Yet what sounds a gentle project has exacted a massive cost and threatened him with financial ruin and even imprisonment
A TV screening of espionage classic The Third Man has prompted a revealing anecdote from Whitehall insider Ian Moss, former Private Secretary at the Cabinet Office.
‘My grandad, who was a Regimental Sergeant Major in Vienna post war, helped with The Third Man. Trevor Howard insisted on being higher rank than RSM in the film, so they tailored him up to be a Major.
‘Howard had the habit of wearing his Major’s uniform in the fairground sector to pick up the local women. Unfortunately, it was the Russians’ turn to oversee the sector one day and they arrested him for spying.
‘My grandad had to go fetch him back.’
Mariella’s hotel break? It’s next door
Mariella Frostrup is so desperate for a holiday that she’s booked a night at a hotel — round the corner from her house.
‘I’ve lined up a night at The Newt, in Somerset, at the end of May when hotels are open again,’ reveals the 58-year-old broadcaster. ‘Yes, it’s only ten minutes down the road from me — but I’m looking forward to it as eagerly as a fortnight in the Maldives.
‘Simply not sleeping in my own bed feels like a deranged kind of decadence, and messing up someone else’s towels debauchery of Nero-esque proportions.’
SEBASTIAN SHAKESPEARE: Mariella Frostrup is so desperate for a holiday that she’s booked a night at a hotel — round the corner from her house
TV gardener Alan Titchmarsh has turned into a one-man vigilante over litter.
‘I saw a group of young men toss a can from a car window into the road. It makes me so cross. I picked up the empty can, walked over and handed it back to them through the window at the traffic lights. I said: ‘You’ve dropped this.’
‘My daughter said I should never have done it because I could have been punched.’
Alas, his efforts were in vain. After the lights changed, the car shot off and the miscreants threw the can out of the window again.
When D’Arby nearly came to blows with Saint Bob…
Pop star Terence Trent D’Arby has confirmed rumours of a fling with Paula Yates when the TV presenter was still married to Bob Geldof.
‘She played a huge part in establishing my identity. Madam Paula was pretty easy on the eye, this was the rock ‘n’ roll life, so bring it on,’ recalled the singer, who has returned to the fray under the name Sananda Maitreya.
‘She and master Bob were estranged, otherwise I wouldn’t have walked into that.’
Estranged or not, Geldof tracked down D’Arby in New York for a confrontation. ‘I got a message at my hotel saying: ‘There’s a Mr Geldof who’d like to meet you.’ I go downstairs and he basically asks, ‘Are you ******g my wife?’ I looked him straight in the eye and said, ‘Of course not.’
The Sign Your Name singer, 59, admits ‘I lied my a** off’ because ‘I didn’t want to get into potential fisticuffs’ with the Band Aid campaigner who ‘had basically attained sainthood’.
Fortunately, Saint Bob was merciful and refrained from clobbering his rock rival.
‘Just call me Cath’, says Zeta-Jones
SEBASTIAN SHAKESPEARE: Catherine Zeta-Jones, 51, insists she’s not the Hollywood star many believe her to be and prefers a more simply moniker
Catherine Zeta-Jones, 51, insists she’s not the Hollywood star many believe her to be and prefers a more simply moniker.
‘I’m not always Catherine Zeta-Jones. Most of the time, I’m just Cath,’ she protests. ‘Not everyone knows her, and that’s OK. I’m a very private person. I want to be a private person and I like to have a private life.
‘I’m just not that person you’re going to see posting my bathroom breaks and photos with my husband in the hot tub on social media.’
Cath’s husband is Michael Douglas, 76, with whom she shares son Dylan, 20, and daughter Carys.
Instead of the hot tub, she favours magazine spreads like this picture of her taken for New Beauty magazine.
The Queen is known to mend rather than spend. Now, she’s seeking a soft furnishings upholsterer to keep the rooms at her palaces up to scratch.
The Royal Household advert admits that the job — based at Windsor Castle — will ‘stretch’ the successful applicant.
The £23,000-£25,000-a-year post is described as ‘helping to preserve a collection that will be enjoyed by future generations … what’s more, it’s a working collection; many of the items are in regular use.’
A wedding brews for Guinness
The Guinnesses are renowned for unconventional couplings, but is this the one to break the mould?
I can reveal that Rory Guinness, the 40-year-old son of Finn Guinness, has become engaged to film coordinator Charlotte Goldney, 31.
Rory and his sister Rebecca were born to different fathers while their mother, Mary, was married to The Ginger Man novelist, the American-Irish J.P. Donleavy.
Some 20 years after Mary and Donleavy’s divorce in 1989, it was revealed that Rory’s father was in fact the brewing heir, Finn, and Rebecca was the daughter of Finn’s younger brother Kieran.
‘The children have known about their fathers for ever,’ Mary told me yesterday from the Wiltshire stud farm she shares with Finn, whom she subsequently married. ‘I was very honest with my children about the whole thing.’
At least Charlotte won’t have a dilemma over which father will give her away. Rory’s sister invited all ‘three fathers’ to her wedding in 2011 and asked Rory’s dad to walk her up the aisle.
Amanda’s fake policewoman is not very PC
SEBASTIAN SHAKESPEARE: Socialite Amanda Eliasch is clearly suffering from lockdown fever
Socialite Amanda Eliasch is clearly suffering from lockdown fever.
The ex-wife of Swedish businessman Johan Eliasch dressed up as a policewoman and chased a pretend thief — around her hotel garden in Mexico where she is on holiday — in a caper reminiscent of Benny Hill.
‘Where is the Easter Egg thief,’ she joked on social media, posting a video of her antics at Las Alamandas luxury hideaway.
The 60-year-old, who received a substantial chunk of Johan’s £400 million fortune when they divorced in 2006, is a lockdown sceptic.
‘To hell with the fascism,’ she says. ‘I’m staying here! Beautiful views, fabulous food.’
Tony Blair is brutally mocked in Creation Stories, the new Sky Cinema film about Alan McGee, the record mogul who discovered Oasis and was embraced by New Labour.
One scene features the PM literally kissing Jimmy Savile’s hand at Chequers, when McGee is invited to the country retreat for the weekend and is shocked to find the creepy presenter is a fellow guest.
McGee, played by Trainspotting star Ewen Bremner, admits there would have been no Oasis without Maggie Thatcher — it was her enterprise allowance scheme that gave the maverick entrepreneur the opportunity to fund Creation Records in the first place.
He is even shown in the film giving Thatcher’s bottom a friendly pat — how cheeky.