Oscar winner takes in film fest, engages attendees at Avalon

Emmy- and Oscar-award winning actor Cliff Robertson recounted for an audience on Sunday the day a courier brought him screen test materials for the part of John F. Kennedy in the movie “PT 109 (1963).”

The rumor in 1960s Hollywood was that Peter Fonda and Warren Beatty were being considered for the prestigious role the president himself was to pick.

Robertson was working at Paramount Pictures and argued lightly with the courier that many big names already were up for the part.

“He looked at me and said, ‘Mr. Robertson, it’s been arranged,” Robertson told an audience of 150 at Cinema at the Avalon.

And so it was. Robertson won the role.

Robertson, 83, attended Saturday and Sunday film festival events at the Avalon for Independence Film Fest. On Sunday, he took his seat eighth row down center, second from stage right. He wore a distinctive gray, cloth director-like hat.

He watched the showing of “Finding Home,” in which Genevieve Bujold, a former film colleague, appeared. After the showing, several residents met and requested photos with him. He spoke after the showing of “PT 109.” 

“I wrote for a paper before I became an actor,” Robertson said, prior to the stage Q&A. “It was a Cox (Enterprises) paper, in Springfield (Ohio).” The beat? “General assignment.”

His biography indeed shows he was a journalist for a short time prior to his long career in film. He has a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame. He won an Oscar for his role in the 1968 film “Charly” and is best known to young audiences as Uncle Ben Parker in the first film adaptation of “Spiderman” (2002) as well as in “Spiderman 2” (2004) and “Spiderman 3” (2007).

He had appeared with Bujold in the film “Possession.” His other favorite leading ladies in film, he said, included the late Maureen Stapleton, with whom he appeared in “Orpheus Descending,” and Maggie Smith, with whom he worked in “The Honey Pot (1967).”

He described Grand Junction residents as “warm and friendly,”  and said although he regularly visits friends in Walsenberg, it was his first visit to the Western Slope. “It’s beautiful here.”

Robertson made his way to several of the VIP events throughout the day Sunday. He is the only actor ever to have won an Emmy, an Oscar and the Theater World Award (for stage).


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