Oscar-winner Cliff Robertson died today at age 88. He is best remembered for his portrayal of a young John F. Kennedy in PT-109 and for the role that won him the industry’s top acting prize, Charly, a mentally disabled man who, through a medical experiment, briefly becomes a genius. He was Peter Parker’s Uncle Ben in “Spider-Man” and also appeared as an ambitious political candidate in “The Best Man” and the guy who loses Kim Novak to William Holden in “Picnic.”
Robertson was also a man of great courage and integrity. In 1977, he discovered that a studio executive was embezzling from him. While many in Hollywood did not want to speak up about what turned out to be a systemic theft, Robertson insisted on going public. The executive was given a small fine and a short jail term; Robertson was essentially banned from working in film. He established the Sentinel Award to recognize annually the selfless act of coming forward for the sole purpose of righting a wrong. The award carries the inscription, “For Choosing Truth Over Self.” His example will be as enduring as his performances.
May his memory be a blessing.