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Cliff Robertson Poster

Biography

Jump to: Overview (4) | Mini Bio (1) | Spouse (2) | Trivia (22) | Personal Quotes (8)

Overview (4)

Date of Birth 9 September 1923La Jolla [now in San Diego], California, USA
Date of Death 10 September 2011Stony Brook, New York, USA  (natural causes)
Birth NameClifford Parker Robertson III
Height 5' 10" (1.78 m)

Mini Bio (1)

A serious and talented actor, at his best playing somewhat troubled characters, Cliff Robertson has been a fairly successful leading man through most of his career without ever becoming a major star. Following strong stage and television experience, he made an interesting film debut in a supporting role in Picnic (1955). He then played Joan Crawford's deranged young husband in Autumn Leaves (1956) and was given leads in films of fair quality such as The Naked and the Dead (1958), Gidget (1959) and The Big Show (1961).

He supplemented his somewhat unsatisfactory big-screen work with interesting appearances on television, including the lead male role in the small-screen version of "Days of Wine and Roses" in 1958. Robertson could be effective playing a chilling petty criminal obsessed with avenging his father in the B-feature Underworld U.S.A. (1961) or a pleasant doctor in the popular hospital melodrama The Interns (1962). However, significant public notice eluded him until he was picked by President John F. Kennedy to play the young JFK during the latter's World War II experience in PT 109 (1963).

Moving into slightly better pictures, Robertson gave some of his best performances: a ruthless presidential candidate in The Best Man (1964), a modern-day Mosca in an updated version of Ben Jonson's "Volpone", The Honey Pot (1967), and most memorably as a mentally retarded man in Charly (1968), for which he won an Academy Award for Best Actor. His critical success with "Charly" allowed him to continue starring in some good films in the 1970s, including Too Late the Hero (1970), The Great Northfield Minnesota Raid (1972) and Obsession (1976). He also acted in, directed and co-produced the fine rodeo drama J.W. Coop (1971) and, less interestingly, The Pilot (1980). Since then, he had remained active mostly in supporting roles, notably playing Hugh M. Hefner in Star 80 (1983). More recently, he had supporting parts in Escape from L.A. (1996) and Spider-Man (2002).

Cliff Robertson died on September 10, 2011, just one day after his 88th birthday in Stony Brook, New York.

- IMDb Mini Biography By: pchemoc389@rogers.com

Spouse (2)

Dina Merrill (22 December 1966 - 1989) (divorced) (1 child)
Cynthia Stone (28 June 1957 - 28 June 1960) (divorced) (1 child)

Trivia (22)

Was a well-known sailplane pilot, and was also the voice in the "Running On Empty" documentary video about the Barron Hilton Cup, a prestigious soaring competition.
Personally chosen by John F. Kennedy to portray a World War II US Navy Lieutenant Kennedy in PT 109 (1963).
Alfred Hitchcock considered him for the role of Sam Loomis in Psycho (1960), but the role went to John Gavin. Robert Wise considered him for the lead role in The Sand Pebbles (1966), but that role went to Steve McQueen.
He owned a number of vintage aircraft, including an original German Messerschmitt ME-108, which was on display at the Parker-O'Malley Air Museum (closed in 2009) in Ghent, New York.
Special guest at Roger Ebert's 4th annual Overlooked Film Festival in Champaign, Illinois. [March 2002]
Was a member of the jury at the Berlin International Film Festival in 1989.
He had a daughter, Stephanie Robertson, with his first wife, Cynthia Stone. He also had a daughter, Heather Robertson, with his second wife, Dina Merrill.
Was responsible for unraveling a major studio fraud in the 1970s, which led to the downfall of powerful Columbia Pictures president David Begelman. The morality of Hollywood was such that it did more short-term harm to Robertson's career than to Begelman's, who soon after was hired to run MGM. The full story is told in David McClintick's 1982 bestseller, "Indecent Exposure".
He personally campaigned for Congressman Mo Udall in the New Hampshire Democratic Presidential primary in 1976.
After the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor, 18-year-old Cliff - then serving on a merchant ship in the Pacific Ocean - was reported dead to his family in California.
Along with Leonard Nimoy, David McCallum, Barbara Rush and Peter Breck, he is one of only five actors to appear in both The Outer Limits (1963) and The Outer Limits (1995).
Inducted into the National Aviation Hall of Fame in 2006 in the Advocate category.
He has two roles in common with Martin Sheen. He and Sheen played John F. Kennedy in PT 109 (1963) and Kennedy (1983) respectively. They also played Ben Parker in Spider-Man (2002) and The Amazing Spider-Man (2012) respectively.
Tried to raise money to make a sequel to Charly (1968) and even shot a 15-minute portion of it.
Passed up the chance to play the lead role in Dirty Harry (1971), which went to Clint Eastwood.
His parents are Clifford Parker Robertson Jr. and the former Audrey Olga Willingham. His father was described as "the idle heir to a tidy sum of ranching money". They have divorced when he was a year old, and his mother died of peritonitis a year later in El Paso, Texas. Robertson was raised by his maternal grandmother, Mary Eleanor "Eleanora" Willingham; an aunt and an uncle.
In 1972, he said that "Nobody made more mediocre films than I did", including Too Late the Hero (1970), which he described as "a bunch of junk".
After serving as a merchant marine, he studied at Antioch College in Yellow Springs, Ohio. He left the college without getting his degree. He moved to New York City where he studied at the Actors Studio.
Robertson, a longtime resident of Water Mill, New York at the time of his death, died at Stony Brook University Medical Center, a day after his 88th birthday.
He was awarded a Star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame at 6801 Hollywood Boulevard in Hollywood, California on December 17, 1986.
Both he and his then wife Dina Merrill played "Special Guest Villains" in Batman (1966).
Following his death, he was interred at Cedar Lawn Cemetery in East Hampton, New York.

Personal Quotes (8)

As long as I get phone calls from the Museum of Modern Art, that all the film buffs love it, that's a residual. It isn't a financial residual and it isn't an artistic residual, but it's an ego residual.
This isn't exactly a stable business. It's like trying to stand up in a canoe with your pants down.
The year you win an Oscar is the fastest year in a Hollywood actor's life. Twelve months later they ask, "Who won the Oscar last year?".
[on director Frank Perry] I've been in so many bad movies and worked with so many bad directors that I go into a film expecting nothing. That's why I respect and admire Frank Perry so much. He's a rare man and I've worked with enough stiffs to know the difference, pal, but he knows the problems of actors and I know the problems of a director. Frank is as far away from Otto Preminger as you can get.
Show business is like a bumpy bus ride. Sometimes you find yourself temporarily juggled out of your seat and holding onto a strap. But the main idea is to hang in there and not be shoved out the door.
[on being blacklisted in Hollywood after exposing David Begelman in 1977] People told me I set a dangerous precedent. My ex-wife said that if I had played the game I would have owned the town, but I was always too independent.
[on trying to get a sequel for Charly (1968)] You don't have to be a 17-year-old zealot to wage guerrilla warfare. Some of us, by nature, are intrigued by the challenge. I never intended to play Don Quixote and I don't intend to go out looking for more windmills, I can tell you. I love making movies very much.
[on Joan Crawford] I think she felt fraudulent, precisely because she had crossed the railroad tracks - had come up from nothing - and that therefore she felt she wasn't the real thing because she was just "acting". But Joan was the real thing.

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