By Jack Kindred
More than just colleages working for the same newspaper, we were close friends, a friendship that lasted 36 years. I started stringing for Variety early in 1970 after receiving permission from my chief editor at the German Press Agency wire service in Hamburg where I was a deskman. After a brief trip to New York where I met Syd and Abel, Harold Myers came to Hamburg that spring followed next by Bob Hawkins, who had hired me. Then Roger came to Hamburg shortly after he had rejoined Variety in London. We met at the Hotel Atlantic and found immediate rapport, especially since Roger had thoughtfully brought with him a bottle of Scotch, which sealed our friendship.
Of course Bob and Harold helped me get started, but it was Roger who became my mentor and adviser. I began annual visits to London, and was always given the VIP treatment. But above all, I was practically taken into Roger’s family – Pat, Ian and Andrew, as well as George, Roger’s father-in law. We went on excursions together, including a trip at a seaside resort and capped by another all-day outing somewhere in Kent where Andrew was playing in a cricket match.
Besides London, we often met on the Continent, in Hamburg, at the Berlin and Cannes festivals. After I became staff and left dpa to move to Munich, Roger also accompanied me to Vienna to help me meet contacts there, since Austria was also part of my beat. However, I really regret that we were unable to meet in New York last September for the reunion because of his illness.
Since Roger was born on Feb. 2, it was a running gag that I always congratulated the “Chief Groundhog” on his birthday.
Like everybody that knew him, I shall miss his wit, charm and cheerful optimism, attributes that made him a great salesman as well. My sincerest condolences to Pat, Ian and Andrew.