Actor Cliff Robertson passed away today of natural causes. He had just turned 88 yesterday.
Robertson’s acting career took off with the help of President Kennedy who handpicked him to play a younger version of himself in PT-109, an account of his WWII service which was released in 1963.
But Robertson would reach the pinnacle of his career in 1968 when he starred in Charly (an adaptation of Daniel Keyes’ Flowers for Algernon.) Robertson’s performance would earn him an Academy Award for Best Actor. Robertson had played the role on television seven years earlier in The Two Worlds of Charlie Gordon. Robertson would later buy the rights to Flowers for Algernon and was instrumental in having it adapted to the silver screen. On a personal note, Charly is amongst my very favorite films. It also happens to be set in Boston.
Unfortunately, Robertson could not accept the award in person as he was filming Too Late The Hero with Michael Caine and Henry Fonda on location in the Philippines and the flim’s director Robert Aldrich would not permit Robertson to travel overseas to attend the ceremony.
In the late 1970s and into the early 1980s, Robertson was blacklisted in Hollywood after he exposed the check forgery scandal at Columbia Pictures. After the smoke had cleared, Robertson spent several years as the spokesman for AT & T.
Younger audiences might remember Robertson’s portrayal of Uncle Ben in the Spider-Man movies. If they do remember then they are fortunate to have seen the sort of actor they just don’t make anymore.