Actor Cliff Robertson, who appeared on FALCON CREST and won an Oscar for Charly in 1969, found himself frozen out of jobs for almost four years after he exposed a prominent Hollywood studio boss as a forger and embezzler, died Saturday on Long Island. He was 88 and lived in Water Mill, N.Y. He was born Clifford Parker Robertson III on Sept. 9, 1923, in La Jolla, California.
A son-in-law, Donald Saunders, said Robertson died at Stony Brook University Medical Center a day after his birthday.
Robertson, a frequent critic of the movie industry who once said he went to Hollywood only to work and never to live, blew the whistle on David Begelman, the president of Columbia Pictures, in 1977 after he discovered that Begelman had forged his name to a $10,000 studio check. Mr. Begelman was subsequently accused of embezzling more than $61,000 from the studio.
He pressed his complaint against the advice of many in Hollywood who did not want Begelman to become a liability to the movie industry. Begelman pleaded no contest to charges of grand theft and was fined $5,000 and sentenced to three years’ probation. He was first suspended and then fired. His legal problems notwithstanding, he was hired to run Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer in 1980.
Robertson, on the other hand, temporarily became a nonperson in Hollywood — essentially blacklisted, he said, by forces within his own industry.
Robertson was twice married, to the actresses Cynthia Stone and Dina Merrill. Both marriages ended in divorce. He is survived by a daughter, Stephanie Saunders of Charleston, S.C., and one grandchild. Another daughter, Heather Robertson, died in 2007.
Among his television work was a season on FALCON CREST in 1983-84 as Dr. Michael Ranson. He spoke about his TV roles, including FALCON CREST in an Archive of American Television interview. You watch it below: