Ordinarily, when someone with as long and as illustrious a career as Cliff Robertson passes away, I would try to be as comprehensive as possible in my appreciation. Unfortunately, because I've been so underwater in projects, I didn't receive the news until much later than I should have and the due dates of the projects require that I can't take myself away from them for too long a stretch. Before I write my short look at the career of Mr. Robertson, who died Saturday one day after his 88th birthday, I'd like to express regret for not finding a better photo of him as the slimy and manipulative presidential candidate Ben Cantwell in the 1964 film adaptation of Gore Vidal's play The Best Man. His at-any-costs maneuvers to wrestle the nomination away from Henry Fonda's William Russell, for me at least, was the best work Robertson ever did on screen.
SOME CLIFF ROBERTSON HIGHLIGHTS
1955: Makes credited film debut in Oscar-nominated adaptation of William Inge's play Picnic.
1956: Plays an unstable young man who woos and weds a lonely middle-age spinster (Joan Crawford) in Robert Aldrich's Autumn Leaves.
1957: Appeared on Broadway in the original production of Tennessee Williams' Orpheus Descending.
1958: Co-starred in Raoul Walsh's adaptation of Norman Mailer's debut novel about World War II The Naked and the Dead.
1959: Played the infamous surfer The Big Kahuna opposite Sandra Dee in Gidget.
1963: Starred as John Kennedy in the story of his World War II heroism in PT-109.
1964: The aforementioned film The Best Man.
1966: Appeared for the first time on TV's Batman as the dimwitted gunfighter villain Shame.
1967: Played a gigolo helping Rex Harrison in a scheme to convince his mistresses that he's dying in Joseph L. Mankiewicz's The Honey Pot.
1968: Won an Oscar for the title role in Charly, the adaptation of the short story "Flowers for Algernon" about an experimental drug that turns a retarded man into a genius though the effects are only temporary.
1971: Co-wrote, directed and starred in J.W. Coop about a man who returns to the rodeo circuit after a stay in prison.
1972: Played Cole Younger in The Great Northfield Minnesota Raid, Philip Kaufman's film about a botched robbery that the gangs of Younger and Jesse James teamed up to pull off.
1975: Played Robert Redford's CIA section chief in Three Days of the Condor.
1976: Starred as a man whose life is shattered when he loses his wife and daughter in Brian De Palma's Obsessed.
1983: Got to wear pajamas as Hugh Hefner in Bob Fosse's final film, Star 80, about the life and murder of playmate Dorothy Stratten.
Got cuckolded by wife Jacqueline Bisset and his son Rob Lowe's best friend Andrew McCarthy in Class.
Co-starred with Christopher Walken and Natalie Wood in Wood's final film, Brainstorm.
1983-84: Played the role of Dr. Michael Ranson in the nighttime soap Falcon Crest.
1994: Appeared as a colonel in the Danny DeVito comedy Renaissance Man.
1996: Played the president in John Carpenter's Escape From L.A.
2002: His first appearance as Uncle Ben in Sam Raimi's Spider-Man. He'd reappear in both of his sequels.
Labels: Aldrich, Crawford, De Palma, DeVito, Fosse, H. Fonda, John Carpenter, Mailer, Mankiewicz, Obituary, Oscars, Raimi, Redford, Television, Tennessee Williams, Theater, Vidal, Walken, Walsh