Cliff Robertson

Actor


The Academy of Television Arts & Sciences Foundation Presents

02:26

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About
About this interview

In his two-and-a-half hour Archive interview, Cliff Robertson (1923-2011) talks about his training at the Actors Studio and his early career on the New York stage. He talks about working in anthology series during the "live" television era of the 1950s. He discusses his role as mentally disabled "Charlie Gordon" in both television (The U.S. Steel Hour's "The Two Worlds of Charlie Gordon") and film (Charly, which earned him an Oscar for Best Actor).  He speaks in great detail about his work with director John Frankenheimer on the Playhouse 90 show "The Days of Wine and Roses." Robertson talks about being personally selected by President John F. Kennedy to play him in the feature film PT109.  He describes his two appearances on the classic anthology series The Twilight Zone and spoke about series creator Rod Serling. Robertson discusses his blacklisting by the industry following "Hollywoodgate," in which he accused Columbia Pictures head David Begelman of forging a check. Robertson speaks about several of his television movie appearances as well as such television series as Rod Brown and the Rocket Rangers and Batman. Stephen J. Abramson conducted the interview in Los Angeles, CA on March 1, 2005.

"Willy Loman's wife had that line in that wonderful Arthur Miller play, 'Death of a Salesman': 'Attention must be paid.' I think our attention span in this business is so short. We're worried about some little starlet temporarily on all the covers of all the magazines. That's kind of shallow. Attention must be paid to those talents that are real, that are viable, that are lasting." 

Interviewee(s)
Highlights
Cliff Robertson on being selected by John F. Kennedy to play JFK in the film "PT 109"
Cliff Robertson on the premise of the Playhouse 90 production of "The Days of Wine and Roses"
Cliff Robertson on appearing on The Twilight Zone episode "The Dummy"
On his blacklisting by the industry following "Hollywoodgate," in which he accused Columbia Pictures head David Begelman of forging a check
Cliff Robertson on his acting mentors
Full Interview

Chapter 1

On his early years and influences; on being raised by his grandmother; on his interest in aviation; on his talent for journalism and his start in acting in New York
On his formal acting training at The Actors Studio; on his acting style
On being cast to star in the feature film "PT 109"; on meeting John F. Kennedy
On moving to New York; on his first television work in dramatic anthologies

Chapter 2

On working on Robert Montgomery Presents; on his predilection for live television when he was younger
On starring in the Playhouse 90 production of "The Days of Wine and Roses"
On the ensemble feeling of working in live anthology dramas and the prestige level of television in the early 1950s; on encouragement he received from Bosley Crowther
On U.S. Steel Hour's "The Secret World of Charly Gordon" and the film version of "Charly"

Chapter 3

On his involvement with William Goldman's first movie; on winning an Oscar for the film version of "Charly" but not being allowed to attend the ceremony
On his work on Philco Television Playhouse and Hallmark Hall of Fame; on the writers for the classic anthology series, including Rod Serling
On on appearing on The Twilight Zone episode "The Dummy"

Chapter 4

On his two appearances on The Twilight Zone and on series creator Rod Serling; on appearances on shows including The Outer Limits and Rod Brown of the Rocket Rangers
On his blacklisting by the industry following "Hollywoodgate," in which he accused Columbia Pictures head David Begelman of forging a check
On going back and forth between film and television; on differences between production on feature films and classic TV anthology dramas
On the possibility of a sequel to "Charly"; on his guest appearances on The Untouchables, Wagon Train, and Ben Casey

Chapter 5

On his fun experience on Batman; on guest-starring on Falcon Crest; on his appearances in television movies including "A Tree Grows in Brooklyn" and "Henry Ford, the Man and the Machine"
On being a spokesperson for AT&T; on advice to aspiring actors; on then-current projects and voiceover work
On his proudest career achievement and his biggest career regret; on the best advice he's ever received; on how he'd like to be remembered
Shows

Ben Casey

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Cliff Robertson on appearing on Ben Casey

Hallmark Hall of Fame

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Cliff Robertson on his work on Hallmark Hall of Fame
Cliff Robertson on his work on a production for Hallmark Hall of Fame

Outer Limits, The (1963-65)

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Cliff Robertson on appearing on The Outer Limits

Philco-Goodyear Television Playhouse

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Cliff Robertson on his work on Philco Television Playhouse  

Playhouse 90

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Cliff Robertson on starring in the Playhouse 90 live production of "The Days of Wine and Roses" 
Cliff Robertson on the premise of the Playhouse 90 production of "The Days of Wine and Roses"
Cliff Robertson on his character and the importance of the Playhouse 90 production of "The Days of Wine and Roses"
Cliff Robertson on John Frankenheimer's directing process on the Playhouse 90 production of "The Days of Wine and Roses"

Playhouse 90: "Days of Wine and Roses"

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Cliff Robertson on starring in the Playhouse 90 live production of "The Days of Wine and Roses" 
Cliff Robertson on the premise of the Playhouse 90 production of "The Days of Wine and Roses"
Cliff Robertson on his character and the importance of the Playhouse 90 production of "The Days of Wine and Roses"
Cliff Robertson on John Frankenheimer's directing process on the Playhouse 90 production of "The Days of Wine and Roses"

Robert Montgomery Presents

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Cliff Robertson on acting in live Robert Montgomery Presents productions
Cliff Robertson on his work on Robert Montgomery Presents>

Rod Brown of the Rocket Rangers

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Cliff Robertson on appearing on Rod Brown of the Rocket Rangers

Twilight Zone, The

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Cliff Robertson on appearing on The Twilight Zone
Cliff Robertson on appearing on The Twilight Zone episode "The Dummy"
Cliff Robertson on the classic Twilight Zone episode "The Dummy" (SPOILERS!)

United States Steel Hour, The

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Cliff Robertson on The U.S. Steel Hour's   "The Two Worlds of Charly Gordon" and the feature film "Charly"
Cliff Robertson on being nominated for an Emmy for The U.S. Steel Hour production of "Charly" and why he wanted to make a film version of "Charly"

Untouchables, The

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Cliff Robertson on appearing on The Untouchables

Wagon Train

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Cliff Robertson on appearing on Wagon Train
Topics

Advice

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Cliff Robertson on advice to aspiring actors

Anthology Drama

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Cliff Robertson on starring in the Playhouse 90 live production of "The Days of Wine and Roses"
Cliff Robertson on The U.S. Steel Hour's   "The Two Worlds of Charly Gordon" and the feature film "Charly"

Classic TV series episodes

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Cliff Robertson on the classic Twilight Zone episode "The Dummy" (SPOILERS!)

Creative Influences and Inspiration

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Cliff Robertson on receiving encouragement from Bosley Crowther

Drama

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Cliff Robertson on the classic Twilight Zone episode "The Dummy" (SPOILERS!)

Hollywood Blacklist

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Cliff Robertson on his recollections of The Hollywood Blacklist

Industry Crossroads

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Cliff Robertson on his recollections of The Hollywood Blacklist

Pivotal Career Moments

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Cliff Robertson on receiving encouragement from Bosley Crowther
Cliff Robertson on receiving encouragement from Bosley Crowther

Pop Culture

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Cliff Robertson on the classic Twilight Zone episode "The Dummy" (SPOILERS!)

TV's Golden Age (1940s & '50s)

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Cliff Robertson on starring in the Playhouse 90 live production of "The Days of Wine and Roses"
Cliff Robertson on The U.S. Steel Hour's   "The Two Worlds of Charly Gordon" and the feature film "Charly"

Television Industry

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Cliff Robertson on his recollections of The Hollywood Blacklist
Cliff Robertson on advice to aspiring actors
Professions

Actor

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Cliff Robertson on his formal acting training at The Actors Studio
Cliff Robertson on actors who inspired him
Cliff Robertson on his acting style
Cliff Robertson on advice to aspiring actors

Performers

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Cliff Robertson on his formal acting training at The Actors Studio
Cliff Robertson on actors who inspired him
Cliff Robertson on his acting style
Cliff Robertson on advice to aspiring actors
Genres

Classic Anthology Series

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Cliff Robertson on his involvement with the early television anthology dramas
Cliff Robertson on the ensemble feeling of working in live anthology dramas and the prestige of television in the early 1950s
Cliff Robertson on starring in the Playhouse 90 live production of "The Days of Wine and Roses"
Cliff Robertson on The U.S. Steel Hour's   "The Two Worlds of Charly Gordon" and the feature film "Charly"
Cliff Robertson on the writers for the classic anthology series
Cliff Robertson on being nominated for an Emmy for The U.S. Steel Hour production of "Charly" and why he wanted to make a film version of "Charly"

Sci-Fi/Supernatural Series

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Cliff Robertson on appearing on The Twilight Zone episode "The Dummy"
People

David Begelman

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On his blacklisting by the industry following "Hollywoodgate," in which he accused Columbia Pictures head David Begelman of forging a check

Michael Caine

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Cliff Robertson on winning an Oscar for the film version of "Charly" but not being allowed to attend the ceremony

Bosley Crowther

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Cliff Robertson on receiving encouragement from Bosley Crowther

Bill Dozier

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 Cliff Robertson on appearing on Rod Brown of the Rocket Rangers thanks to Bill Dozier

Dominick Dunne

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Cliff Robertson on acting in live Robert Montgomery Presents productions

John Frankenheimer

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Cliff Robertson on starring in the Playhouse 90 production of "The Days of Wine and Roses" 
Cliff Robertson on his character and the importance of the Playhouse 90 production of "The Days of Wine and Roses"
Cliff Robertson on John Frankenheimer's directing process on the Playhouse 90 production of "The Days of Wine and Roses"

William Goldman

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Cliff Robertson on his involvement with William Goldman's first movie and asking him to write the film version of "Charly"

Buck Houghton

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Cliff Robertson on working with Buck Houghton

John F. Kennedy

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Cliff Robertson on being selected by John F. Kennedy to play JFK in the film "PT 109"
Cliff Robertson on meeting John F. Kennedy

Piper Laurie

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Cliff Robertson on his co-stars in the Playhouse 90 production of "The Days of Wine and Roses"

Jack Lemmon

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Cliff Robertson on Jack Lemmon starring in the film version of "The Days of Wine and Roses"

JP Miller

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Cliff Robertson on meeting with writer JP miller when working on the Playhouse 90 production of "The Days of Wine and Roses"

Elizabeth Montgomery

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Cliff Robertson on acting with Robert Montgomery's daughter, Elizabeth Montgomery

Sydney Pollack

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Cliff Robertson on appearing on Ben Casey and working with Sydney Pollack

Rod Serling

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Cliff Robertson on working with writer Rod Serling and appearing on The Twilight Zone

Kim Stanley

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Cliff Robertson on acting in live Robert Montgomery Presents productions

Robert Vaughn

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Cliff Robertson on a stunt gone wrong with Robert Vaughn

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