Washington Cliff Robertson, who won an Oscar for playing a mentally disabled man in ‘Charly’ (1968) and starred as the late US President John F. Kennedy in ‘PT 109’, has passed away. He was 88.
His longtime secretary Evelyn Christel said that the actor died in Stony Brook, New York, of natural causes on Saturday, a day after his 88th birthday.
“My father was a loving father, devoted friend, dedicated professional and honorable man,” Fox News quoted daughter Stephanie Saunders as saying in a statement.
“He stood by his family, friends, and colleagues through good times and bad. He made a difference in all our lives and made our world a better place. We will all miss him terribly,” she added.
Born Sept. 9, 1925, in La Jolla, Calif., Robertson was 2 when he was adopted by wealthy parents who named him Clifford Parker Robertson III. After his parents divorced and his mother died, he was reared by his maternal grandmother, whom he adored.
Robertson made his film debut in ‘Picnic’ in 1955. He shot to fame when he was personally chosen by Kennedy to portray the young JFK in the World War II drama ‘PT 109’ (1963).
Over a career that spanned for more than half a century, Robertson acted in over 60 movies and also created a string of impressive performances in television and on Broadway.
Robertson exposed a check-forging scandal by then-Columbia Pictures President David Begelman in 1977, an incident that shocked Hollywood in the late 1970s.
His later roles included kind Uncle Ben in the ‘Spider-Man’ movies.
Besides acting, Robertson also had a passion for flying. He owned a number of vintage aircraft, including an original German Messerschmitt ME-108
Robertson was married and divorced twice. In 1957 he married Jack Lemmon’s ex-wife Cynthia Stone, and had a daughter, Stephanie, before splitting in 1960.
In 1966, he married American actress Dina Merrill and had one daughter, Heather. The couple divorced in 1989.
Robertson’s funeral is set for Friday in East Hampton.