PT 109 STAR CLIFF ROBERTSON DEAD

PT 109 STAR CLIFF ROBERTSON DEAD thumbnail
Legendary CLIFF ROBERTON who played JOHN KENNEDY in "PT 109,” and won an Oscar for "Charly" has died in New York at 88.
 
Robertson died in Stony Brook, L.I.  of natural causes a day after his 88th birthday.
 
Robertson, who also played Peter Parker’s Uncle Ben in the "Spider Man" films, was a hard working vet who appeared in scores of films and TV productions.
 
Robertson’s second marriage was to actress and heiress Dina Merrill, the daughter of financier E.F. Hutton and Marjorie Merriweather Post, heiress to the Post cereal fortune and one of the world's richest women.
 
He also appeared in the “Batman” TV series as western desperado Shame and in the very first episode of "The Outer Limits" as he faced "The Galaxy Being". And on "The Twilight Zone", Cliff was NO "Dummy".
 
Cliff’s greatest triumph netted him an Academy Award for his perf as "Charly," a mentally disabled man who gets a weird science brain boost making him a sudden genius – but, sadly regresses to his former state.  He first played the role on live TV in an adaptation of the gripping “Flowers for Algernon”.
 
“PT 109” based on JFK’s WW2 heroics was the first movie to be made about a president currently in power when it hit the big screen in 1963.
 
Many actors were considered but Kennedy himself favored Robertson, warning Cliff he didn't want someone trying to imitate his distinctive New England accent.
 
"That was fine with me," Robertson told JFK.
 
"I think it would have been a mistake for me to say `Hahvahd' or try to reproduce gestures. Then the audience would have been constantly aware that an actor was impersonating the president."
 
Cliff added that “Pt 109” couldn't be Hollywood bravado but as close to real life as possible "(un)like Errol Flynn gunning down 30 of the enemy. This young naval officer just does things because they have to be done."
 
After seeing pix of Cliff in wardrobe and hair and makeup, JFK had one complaint – Cliff’s hair was parted on the wrong side. Robertson dutifully trained his hair to part on the left.

Robertson turned whistleblower for reporting that Columbia studio head David Begelman had forged his name on a $10,000 check in the late 1970s.  Begelman, who misappropriated over $60,000 in studio funds, was later convicted in the explosive “Hollywoodgate” scandal.

 
Cliff later told The Washington Post, “There’s a small percentage of corrupt people in Hollywood. Only one percent represents the pinnacle of power. They’ve been frightening people for years, and now they’re frightening others into `ipso facto’ blacklisting me. I hear there’s a very powerful person in Hollywood saying I’ll never work again.”
 
He did work again — a true "profile in courage".
 
Adios, amigo.
 

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