Idol Chatter

ronsilver.jpgWhen I learned of actor Ron Silver’s death this morning, I was saddened and surprised. Surprised because, unlike Patrick Swayze or Jade Goody’s battles with cancer, I was not aware of the 62-year-old, “West Wing” star’s two year fight with esophageal cancer, and saddened because I really admired the man for his activism and political fearlessness.
A Tony winner for David Mamet’s “Speed the Plow,” Silver was one of those actors who could move effortlessly between television (“Veronica’s Closet,” “Chicago Hope”) and film (“Ali,” Reversal of Fortune”) without being accused of “slumming,” and so it was in his political life.
Having been involved with the Democratic party for most of his life, Silver described himself as a “9/11 Republican” after feeling that the Democratic Party line on terrorism left something to be desired. He spoke at the 2004 Republican National Convention, but eventually re-registered as an Independent.
But, the co-founder of the The Creative Coalition, an arts and entertainment organization “dedicated to educating and advocating on behalf of social and political issues,” wasn’t just blindly jumping on the Bush bandwagon; he spoke intelligently and cogently about the issues. And while I often disagreed with him, I respected him; it was obvious that he was genuinely thoughtful and passionate about his politics.

Having worked on both sides of the political spectrum gave him great insights and his appearances on MSNBC during the recent election provided some of the best coverage of the conventions, giving balanced viewpoint amidst the bombast of other bloviating conservative pundits. Who knows, if Silver had lived, maybe he would have eventually run for office. An actor in the Whitehouse isn’t unheard of.
So, while it is sad to lose Silver as an actor, it is also unfortunate that we lose his thoughtful voice in the political conversation, as well as his tireless advocacy for First Amendment rights and the arts.
Ron Silver at

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