Cliff Robertson, a talented actor whose death we've already been forced to confront in Spider-Man and subsequent painful flashbacks, died Saturday at Stony Brook University Medical Center on Long Island. He was 88, having just celebrated a birthday on Friday.
Robertson's 50-plus year film career began with a role in 1955's Picnic and, most would say, reached its apex just over a decade later with 1968's Charly. For his performance as that film's title character, a mentally-challenged baker who temporarily gains above average intelligence--remember, we watched it in class after reading Flowers for Algernon?--he would win an Academy Award for Best Actor in a Leading Role. But just a decade later, his career hit a wall. After discovering that Columbia Pictures president David Begelman had been forging studio checks, Robertson blew the whistle and in 1977 hit Begelman with an embezzlement charge that led to a fine and three years of probation. Begelman still managed to rise to head of MGM by 1980, and it was instead Robertson's career that was hurt by the scandal, with the actor essentially finding himself blacklisted. Even when it's costing a major studio tens of thousands of dollars, still nobody likes a tattler, apparently.
Despite the political setback, Robertson eventually climbed his way into at least one high profil role all you nerds surely know him for: Uncle Ben, the part that will be the last credit to his name. Sadly, it seems that Robertson, like so many an elderly man, just sort of slipped away from us after some young hot shot came in and took his job from him. In this case, it just so happens that the young hot shot was Martin Sheen, and that the job was being Spider-Man's uncle.