Last Saturday, September 10th 2011, Hollywood as well as the world of television lost one of it's most recognisable and constant actors. His career spanned over 50 years.
Clifford Parker "Cliff" Robertson III was born on September 9th, 1923 in La Jolla, California. His mother, Audrey Willingham and father, Clifford Parker Robertson II divorced when he was just 1 years old and his mother past away a year later. Robertson was raised by his paternal grandmother and an aunt, but remained close to his father. He graduated from La Jolla High School in 1941 and then served in the merchant marines during World War II. After the war he attended Antioch College in Ohio and worked as a journalist for a short time.
Robertson's acting career began in 1950 when he got a bit part in Mr Roberts. He caught a break soon after when he was personally chosen by John F. Kennedy to portray the future president as a Lieutenant in the Navy in the film PT-109. He then played a presidential candidate in the 1964 movie The Best Man. Four years later, Robertson won the 1968 Academy Award for Best Actor for his role as a mentally challenged man in the film Charly.
Beginning in the '50's, Robertson appeared in a large host of films, included are, Picnic (1955) Autumn Leaves (1956), Gidget (1959), Sunday in New York (1963), Devil's Brigade(1968), Too Late the Hero (1970),J.W. Coop (1972), Three Days of the Condor (1975), Obsession (1976), Star 80(1983) and Malone (1987). Late in his life, Robertson's career enjoyed a resurgence when he scored the role as Uncle Ben Parker, Peter Parker's gentle and wise uncle in the first movie adaption of Spider Man(2002), and then reprised the role in the following sequels, Spider Man 2(2004) and Spider Man 3(2007). Robertson commented about this on his website saying, "Since Spider-Man 1 and 2, I seem to have a whole new generation of fans. That in itself is a fine residual."
Besides an active big screen career, Robertson was a regular fixture on television, appearing in many shows and made for television movies. He appeared in 2 episodes of the T.V. classic The Twilight Zone, the first was entitled A Hundred Yards Over the Rim(1961) and The Dummy(1962), where he played a ventriloquist who believed his dummy was alive. In 1958 he portrayed the character Joe Clay in the first broadcast of Playhouse 90's "Days of Wine and Roses". Other network appearances include, The Greatest Show on Earth(1963) and ABC's Breaking Point(1964). Robertson also appeared in episodes of Batman, The Outlaws, Falcon Crest and both the '60's and '90's versions of The Outer Limits.
Robertson's favorite hobby was flying. He owned vintage and classic airplanes such as, de Havilland Tiger Moths, a Messershcmitt bf 108 and a genuine World War II era Mk.IX Supermarine Spitfire MK923.
Robertson was not the flashy leading man many of his peers aspired to be. Nor did he seem to want to be. Instead, he quietly became one of the most recognisable actors in film and television. A consummate professional and gentleman, the industry was better for having him a part of it.
Cliff Robertson died Sept. 10 of natural causes, one day after his 88th birthday.
By Jim Serf