ROBERTSON, Cliff






Nationality: American. Born: Clifford Parker Robertson in La Jolla, California, 9 September 1925. Education: Attended La Jolla High School, graduated 1941; Antioch College, Yellow Springs, Ohio, one year; studied acting at Actors Studio, New York. Family: Married 1) Cynthia Stone, 1957 (divorced 1959), daughter: Stephanie; 2) the actress Dina Merrill, 1966 (divorced 1989), daughter: Heather. Career: 1941—seaman on the tramp steamer Admiral Cole ; worked in merchant marine during World War II; 1943—film debut in We've Never Been Licked ; 1947—on tour with the play Three Men on a Horse ; 1948–50—on national tour with the play Mister Roberts ; 1953—New York debut in Late Love ; 1954—regular actor on TV series Robert Montgomery Presents ; 1955—contract with Columbia;

Cliff Robertson
Cliff Robertson
1972—directed the film J. W. Coop ; many television roles, including the mini-series Washington: Behind Closed Doors , 1977; late 1970s—sued Columbia executive David Begelman for illegal checking practices; 1983–84—in TV series Falcon Crest ; 1995—in TV mini-series Dazzle . Awards: Best Actor Academy Award, for Charly , 1968.


Films as Actor:

1943

We've Never Been Licked ( Fighting Command ) (Rawlins) (as Adams); Corvette K-225 (Rosson)

1955

Picnic (Logan) (as Alan)

1956

Autumn Leaves (Aldrich) (as Burt Hanson)

1957

The Girl Most Likely (Leisen) (as Pete)

1958

The Naked and the Dead (Walsh) (as Hearn)

1959

Gidget (Wendkos) (as Kahoona); Battle of the Coral Sea (Wendkos) (as Lt. Cmdr. Jeff Conway)

1960

As the Sea Rages (Haechler) (as Clements)

1961

All in a Night's Work (Anthony) (as Warren Kingsley Jr.); Underworld, U.S.A. (Fuller) (as Tolly Devlin); The Big Show (Clark) (as Josef Everard)

1962

The Interns (Swift) (as Dr. John Paul Otis)

1963

My Six Loves (Champion) (as the Rev. Jim Larkin); PT 109 (Martinson) (as John F. Kennedy); Sunday in New York (Tewksbury) (as Adam Tyler)

1964

The Best Man (Schaffner) (as Joe Cantwell); 633 Squadron (Grauman) (as Wing Cmdr. Roy Grant)

1965

Masquerade (Dearden) (as David Frazer); Up from the Beach (Parrish) (as Sgt. Edward Baxter); Love Has Many Faces (Singer) (as Pete Jordan)

1967

The Honey Pot (Mankiewicz) (as William McFly)

1968

The Devil's Brigade (McLaglen) (as Maj. Alan Crown); Charly (Nelson) (title role); The Sunshine Patriots (Sargent—for TV)

1970

Too Late the Hero (Aldrich) (as Lt. Lawson)

1971

The Great Northfield Minnesota Raid (Kaufman) (as Cole Younger)

1973

The Man without a Country (Delbert Mann—for TV) (as Philip Nolan); Ace Eli and Rodger of the Skies (Sampson) (as Eli)

1974

Man on a Swing (Perry) (as Lee Tucker); A Tree Grows in Brooklyn (Hardy—for TV)

1975

Out of Season (Bridges) (as Joe); Three Days of the Condor (Pollack) (as Higgins); My Father's House (Segal—for TV)

1976

Return to Earth (Taylor—for TV) (as Buzz Aldrin); Obsession (De Palma) (as Michael Courtland); Midway (Smight) (as Cmdr. Carl Jessop); Shoot (Hart) (as Maj. Rex Jeanette)

1977

Fraternity Row (Tobin) (as narrator)

1978

Overboard (Newland—for TV); Dominique (Anderson) (as David Ballard)

1982

Two of a Kind (Roger Young—for TV) (as Frank Minor)

1983

Class (Carlino) (as Burroughs); Brainstorm (Trumbull) (as Alex Terson); Star 80 (Fosse) (as Hugh Hefner)

1985

Shaker Run (Morrison); The Key to Rebecca (Hemmings—for TV)

1986

Dreams of Gold: The Mel Fisher Story (Goldstone—for TV)

1987

Malone (Cokliss) (as Charles Delaney); Ford: The Man and the Machine (Eastman—for TV) (title role)

1990

Dead Reckoning (Robert Lewis—for TV) (as Dr. Daniel Barnard)

1991

Wild Hearts Can't Be Broken (Miner) (as Dr. Carver)

1992

Wind (Ballard) (as Morgan Weld)

1994

Renaissance Man (Penny Marshall) (as Col. James)

1995

Pakten (Risan)

1996

Escape from L.A. (John Carpenter); "With God On Our Side: The Rise of the Religious Right in America" (Skaggs and Van Taylor—mini for TV) (as Narrator)

1997

Melting Pot (Musca) (as Jack Durman)

1998

Assigment Berlin (Randel) (as Cliff Garret)

1999

Family Tree (Clark)

2000

March 2 (Hour of Valor) (Ray)



Films as Director:

1971

J. W. Coop (+ title role)

1979

The Pilot (+ co-sc, ro)



Publications


On ROBERTSON: book—

McClintick, David, Indecent Exposure: A True Story of Hollywood and Wall Street , New York, 1982.

On ROBERTSON: articles—

Current Biography 1969 , New York, 1969.

Hart, Henry, "Cliff Robertson," in Films in Review (New York), March 1969.

"Cliff Robertson and Hollywoodgate," in Films in Review (New York), August-September 1978.

Bell, A., "Bell Tells," in Village Voice (New York), no. 27, 15 June 1982.

"Le vedette de la semaine," in Cine Revue (Brussels), vol. 63, 10 November 1983.

Green, Michelle, "Cliff Robertson: Hollywood's Mr. Clean Shot Down David Begelman; Now the Actor Has Pulled His Career Out of a Nosedive," in People Weekly (New York), 5 December 1983.

O'Hallaren, Bill, "'Sometimes You Have to Take a Step Backward to Make Two Forward,"' in TV Guide , vol. 32, 22 June 1984.

McCarthy, A., "Compassion Fatigue," in Commonweal , vol. 112, 11 January 1985.

Fink, Mitchell, "Cliff Robertson, Who Plays," in People Weekly , 9 September 1996.

Stedman, R., "Lobby Notes: Lines from L.A.," in Audience (Simi Valley), no. 198, December/January 1997/1998.

"A Man With a Moral Mission: Hollywood Stories," in The Christian Science Monitor , 5 May 2000.


* * *


A sturdy, interesting leading man and moderately versatile character actor/villain, Cliff Robertson played his most dramatic scenes thus far offscreen when he blew the whistle on Columbia president David Begelman for embezzlement. Although this led to his three-year blacklisting by the movie studios, Robertson weathered that particular storm, and is currently embarked on what is virtually a second movie career.

Initially, Joshua Logan, who had directed Robertson in the stage version of his Mister Roberts , provided him with his feature movie debut role in the film version of William Inge's play, Picnic ; Robertson plays the Kansan who loses Kim Novak to drifter William Holden. After appearing in a number of films of varying quality, Robertson attracted considerable attention when he was chosen by President John F. Kennedy to portray him in Leslie Martinson's straightforward PT 109 .

The group of films that followed were mostly routine, although his ruthless presidential candidate in Gore Vidal's political melodrama, The Best Man , is both effective and memorable. Ralph Nelson's Charly , however, in which Robertson portrays a retarded man whom a scientific experiment transforms to a genius and back again, gained him the Academy Award as Best Actor. Robertson had played the role on television in 1961 and purchased the rights to the material (Daniel Keyes's novel Flowers for Algernon ), ensuring his appearance in the film version. He also directed, scripted, produced and starred in the well-received 1972 film J. W. Coop , a character study of a dumb but cocky ex-convict rodeo cowboy. Despite this success, Robertson has only directed one other film, The Pilot , in which he also starred.

After a number of other films in the early 1970s, including supporting performances in two solid box-office hits, Midway and Three Days of the Condor , Robertson had few jobs for more than three years during his blacklisting. He resumed his career in the 1980s, however, with supporting roles in Douglas Trumbull's Brainstorm and Bob Fosse's Star 80 (portraying Playboy founder Hugh Hefner), among other film and television assignments. Robertson now seems well on his way back toward starring roles which call for quiet determination, evident authority, and understated intensity.

—Bill Wine, updated by Frank Uhle

User Contributions:

Comment about this article, ask questions, or add new information about this topic:

CAPTCHA


Cliff Robertson - Actors and Actresses forum