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Tribute: Cliff Robertson

posted by Nell Minow

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.”

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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.

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