Mature Life Features

Cecil Scaglione, Editor

Cliff Robertson Redux

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By Cecil Scaglione

Mature Life Features

 

 

  The death of Oscar- , Emmy-, and Theater World Award-winner Cliff Robertson (shown in photo)  revived a flash of our thoroughly enjoyable meeting decades ago.

  It was in the late ’60s at the annual Quill Award dinner held by the Windsor Press Club (across the river from downtown Detroit). I chaired the annual black-tie presentation of the award that I co-founded a few years earlier to honor people who “made outstanding contributions to the flow of information on Canadian affairs.”

  Mr. Robertson was in town the same weekend as that year’s dinner to attend the premiere of “The Devil’s Brigade,” in which he starred with William Holden and a cast of several recognizable names and faces. We had invited Mr. Robertson weeks earlier to our dinner and asked if he would like to participate in the “official” presentation in some form or other.

  We didn’t hear from him until he showed up with the manager of the theater where the film opened. It wasn’t a problem because all we had to do was pull up a couple of chairs at my table. While that was going on, I asked him if there was anything he wanted to do and if there was anything I could do for him. He held up his left hand, spread his thumb and forefinger about four inches apart and said, “I’d like a little shot of Scotch.” That set the tone. He said, if it was alright with us, he preferred to schmooze rather than intrude on our program. So I introduced him to our club president and the Montreal editor/publisher who was the Quill recipient. 

  I made certain he never ran out of Scotch for the rest of the evening. One of the things he mentioned in our conversations was that he had just bought the film rights to “Flowers for Algernon,” a sci-fi short story I had read, that he said was going to win him an Oscar. It did. The movie was called “Charly.” I thanked him for adding some gloss and class to our gathering and he thanked us for the invitation and invited me to knock on his door if I ever got to Hollywoodland. As it turned out, I got to his old stomping grounds here in San Diego — he grew up and went to school in La Jolla — but never managed to cross his path.

  But I still smile when I think of that evening.

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Written by Cecil Scaglione

September 16, 2011 at 12:05 am

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