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Actor Cliff Robertson remembered

Cliff Robertson was remembered at his funeral as much more than a movie star who won an Academy Award and spent a lifetime appearing on the silver screen, television and Broadway stages.

Nearly 100 friends and relatives paid tribute to a generous, kind-hearted and devoted family man and an accomplished aviator and writer whose missives to them often ended up as cherished mementoes kept in frames and hung in places of honour in their homes.

Robertson, who won an Oscar in 1968 for his performance in Charly, died of natural causes on September 10, a day after his 88th birthday.

His stepson, actor Christopher Lemmon, said during one of four eulogies at his funeral at St Luke's Episcopal Church in East Hampton, on Long Island, New York, that he "never lost sight of his humility". "He was one of the greatest men I have ever known," he added.

Though Robertson once conceded he was never considered in the top ranks of leading men, he remained a popular actor from the mid-1950s into the following century. "I'm not one of the Golden Six," he commented in 1967, referring to the top male stars of that day. "I take what's left over."

His Oscar-winning role came as a mentally disabled man who undergoes medical treatment that makes him a genius - until a poignant regression to his former state. He was so determined the big-screen role would not go to another actor, he bought the movie rights.

He also is remembered for his portrayal of future President John F Kennedy in the Second World War film PT 109. More recently, he played Uncle Ben in the Spider-Man movies.

In 1977, Robertson blew the whistle on a Hollywood financial scandal. He had discovered that David Begelman, president of Columbia Pictures, had forged his signature on a 10,000-dollar salary cheque and he called the FBI and the Burbank and Beverly Hills police departments.

Hollywood insiders were not happy with the ugly publicity and Robertson said neither the studios nor the networks would hire him for four years.

In 1957, Robertson married Jack Lemmon's ex-wife Cynthia Stone and they had a daughter, Stephanie, before splitting up in 1960. In 1966 he married actress and heiress Dina Merrill and they had a daughter, Heather. The couple divorced in 1989.


From Belfast Telegraph