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Cliff Robertson
Born Clifford Parker Robertson III
September 9, 1923 (1923-09-09) (age 86)
La Jolla, California, U.S.
Occupation Actor
Years active 1943–present
Spouse(s) Cynthia Stone (m. 1957–1959) «start: (1957)–end+1: (1960)»"Marriage: Cynthia Stone to Cliff Robertson" Location: (linkback: (divorced) 1 child
Dina Merrill (m. 1966–1986) «start: (1966)–end+1: (1987)»"Marriage: Dina Merrill to Cliff Robertson" Location: (linkback: (divorced) 1 child
Official website

Clifford Parker "Cliff" Robertson III (born September 9, 1923) is an American actor with a film and television career that spans half of a century. Robertson won the 1968 Academy Award for Best Actor for his role in the movie Charly. He is perhaps best known to younger audiences for playing "Uncle" Ben Parker in the Spider-Man film series.


Early life

Robertson was born in La Jolla, California, the son of Audrey (née Willingham) and Clifford Parker Robertson II. He attended Antioch College in Ohio and worked as a journalist for a short time.[1][2] In high school he was known as 'The Walking Phoenix.'[3]


Robertson played a future President of the United States in PT 109 (chosen personally by John F. Kennedy to portray the then-Lt. Kennedy) and a presidential candidate in The Best Man (1964). Later came Charly (an adaptation of Flowers for Algernon for which he won the 1968 Academy Award for Best Actor).

Other films included Picnic (1955), Autumn Leaves (1956), Sunday in New York (1963), Too Late the Hero (1970), J. W. Coop (1972), Three Days of the Condor (1975), Obsession (1976), Star 80 (1983) and Malone (1987). More recently, Robertson's career has had a resurgence. He appeared as Uncle Ben Parker in the first movie adaptation of Spider-Man (2002), as well as in the sequels Spider-Man 2 (2004) and Spider-Man 3 (2007). He commented on his website that ""Since Spider-Man 1 and 2, I seem to have a whole new generation of fans. That in itself is a fine residual."[4] He was also in the horror film Riding the Bullet (2004).

Robertson's television appearances include guest starring roles in such series as the NBC medical drama about psychiatry The Eleventh Hour (1963) in the role of Jeff Dillon, "The Man Who Came Home Late". In 1958, he portrayed Joe Clay in the very first broadcast of Playhouse 90's Days of Wine and Roses, in what some critics cite as the superior version of this poignant story. Other network appearances included CBS's The Twilight Zone (1961, 1962), The Greatest Show on Earth (1963) and ABC's Breaking Point (1964).

He had a starring role in the live space opera Rod Brown of the Rocket Rangers (1953-54), as well as recurring roles on Hallmark Hall of Fame (1952), Alcoa Theatre (1959), and Playhouse 90 (1958, 1960), The Outlaws (three episodes as Chad Burns), Batman as the villainous gunfighter Shame (1966, 1968), Falcon Crest (1983-84) as Dr. Michael Ranson, and most recently, The Lyon's Den (2003). He had starring roles in episodes of both the 1960s and 1990s versions of The Outer Limits. He was awarded an Emmy for his leading role in an 1965 episode from Bob Hope Presents the Chrysler Theatre entitled "The Game". His second appearance on Batman featured his wife, Dina Merrill.

In 1989, he narrated an AT&T promotional video documenting some of its technological improvements at the time. Incidentally, Robertson, who for ten years was a national TV spokesman for AT&T (which won him the Advertising Age award for best commercial), was to be the keynote speaker at an AT&T stockholders' meeting during a strike by AT&T workers. Robertson refused to cross the picket line and did not speak at the meeting.


Personal life

Robertson was married to actress Dina Merrill from 1966 to 1986.

In 1977, Robertson discovered that his name had been forged on a $10,000 check, although it was not money that was due to him. He also learned that the forgery had been carried out by Columbia studio head David Begelman, and on reporting it, he inadvertently triggered one of the biggest Hollywood scandals of the 1970s. Robertson was subsequently blacklisted for several years before he finally returned to film in Brainstorm (1983).[2][5] Robertson received an award from Antioch College Alumni in 2007 for his contributions to his field of work.

One of Robertson's main hobbies is flying and, among other aircraft, he has owned several de Havilland Tiger Moths, a Messerschmitt Bf 108 and a genuine World War II era Mk.IX Supermarine Spitfire MK923.[6]

Immediately after winning the Academy Award for Charly, Robertson attempted an aviation film tentatively titled I Shot Down the Red Baron, I Think. It was a spoof in which he played a fighter pilot against the Red Baron, who dressed in pink and was obviously gay. The Red Baron was played by Don Watson. During the summer of 1969 Robertson’s production utilized Lynn Garrison’s War One airfield, at Leixlip, Ireland, with a collection of replica aircraft, vehicles and support equipment. The film was never completed.

In addition to his Oscar and Emmy and several lifetime achievement awards from various film festivals, Robertson has a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame at 6801 Hollywood Blvd. He was also awarded the 2008 Ambassador of Good Will Aviation Award by the National Transportation Safety Board Bar Association in Alexandria, Virginia, on May 18, 2008, for his leadership in and promotion of general aviation.


Year Film Role Notes
1943 Corvette K-225 uncredited
We've Never Been Licked Adams uncredited
1956 Picnic Alan Benson
Autumn Leaves Burt Hanson
1957 The Girl Most Likely Pete
1958 The Naked and the Dead Lieutenant Robert Hearn
1959 Gidget The Big Kahuna
As the Sea Rages Clements
Battle of the Coral Sea Lt. Cmdr. Jeff Conway
1961 The Big Show Josef Everard
All in a Night's Work Warren Kingsley, Jr.
Underworld U.S.A. Tolly Devlin
1963 My Six Loves Reverend Jim Larkin
1962 The Interns Dr. John Paul Otis
1963 PT 109 Lt. John F. Kennedy
Sunday in New York Adam Tyler
1964 633 Squadron Wing Cmdr. Roy Grant
The Best Man Joe Cantwell
1965 Up from the Beach Sgt. Edward Baxter
Masquerade David Frazer
Love Has Many Faces Pete Jordon
1967 The Honey Pot William McFly
1968 The Devil's Brigade Maj. Alan Crown
Charly Charly Gordon Academy Award for Best Actor
National Board of Review Award for Best Actor
Nominated — Golden Globe Award for Best Actor – Motion Picture Drama
1970 Too Late the Hero Lt. (j.g.) Sam Lawson
1972 J. W. Coop J. W. Coop
The Great Northfield Minnesota Raid Cole Younger
1973 The Men Who Made the Movies: Alfred Hitchcock narrator
Ace Eli and Rodger of the Skies Ace Eli Walford
1974 Man on a Swing Lee Tucker
1975 Out of Season Joe Tanner
Three Days of the Condor J. Higgins
1976 Shoot Rex
Midway Cmdr. Carl Jessop
Obsession Michael Courtland
1977 Fraternity Row The Narrator
1978 Dominique David Ballard
1980 The Pilot Mike Hagan
1983 Brainstorm Alex Terson
Falcon Crest Dr. Michael Ranson Season 3
Class Mr. Burroughs
Star 80 Hugh Hefner
1985 Shaker Run Judd Pierson
1987 Malone Charles Delaney
Ford: The Man and the Machine Henry Ford
1991 Wild Hearts Can't Be Broken Doctor Carver
1992 Wind Morgan Weld
1994 Renaissance Man Colonel James
1995 Pakten Ted Roth
1996 Escape from L.A. President
1998 Assignment Berlin Cliff Garret
Melting Pot Jack Durman
1999 Family Tree Larry
2000 Falcon Down Buzz Thomas
2001 Mach 2 Vice President Pike
2002 13th Child Mr. Shroud Robertson was one of the writers of this film
Spider-Man Ben Parker
2004 Spider-Man 2 Ben Parker
Riding the Bullet Farmer
2007 Spider-Man 3 Ben Parker


External links


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