Veteran actor Cliff Robertson, who won an Academy Award for his portrayal of a mentally disabled bakery janitor in the movie Charly, has died of natural causes, aged 88.
Robertson, whose career spans more than 50 years, appeared in some 60 movies, including PT 109, My Six Loves, Sunday in New York, The Best Man, Gidget, The Interns, The Girl Most Likely, Picnic, The Devil’s Brigade, Three Days of the Condor, Obsession, Star 80 and Spiderman.
But throughout his career, he worked regularly in stage and television. His earliest roles were in TV including Armstrong Circle Theatre, Hallmark Hall of Fame, Rod Brown of the Rocket Rangers.
He played an alcoholic in the critically acclaimed 1958 Playhouse 90 production of The Days of Wine and Roses, only to see Jack Lemmon land the role in the 1962 movie version. Frustrated by seeing roles he originated go to major movie stars for the film versions — “I had a reputation then for being the bridesmaid, never the bride”.
He won an Emmy Award for his performance in The Game, a 1965 drama on Bob Hope Presents the Chrysler Theatre.
In 1977, Robertson discovered that his name had been forged on a $10,000 cheque which he realised he had not earned. He soon discovered it was a forgery carried out by one of the most powerful Hollywood moguls, David Begelman. It triggered one of the biggest studio scandals of the 1970s. Begelman resigned, and Robertson couldn’t get acting work until the early 1980s.
Later TV appearances included Washington: Behind Closed Doors, Falcon Crest, The Outer Limits, The Lyons Den and many telemovies.
His final role was 2007’s Spiderman 3.