Cliff Robertson, my adolescent dreamboat

I was, perhaps, a strange young girl.

While I had an age-appropriate fascination with both Bobby Sherman and David Cassidy (although Donny Osmond was way too dental for my tastes,) most of the men that inhabited my adolescent dreams were black-and-white movie idols, the kind that starred in the films Bernie Hermann would host on Channel 48 in the 1970s.

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Farewell, my lovely

I loved Tyrone Power in Blood and Sand, Gregory Peck in Roman Holiday, Burt Lancaster in Elmer Gantry, John Payne in the Dolly Sisters, Rory Calhoun in The River of No Return, Montgomery Clift in A Place in the Sun and, well, you kind of get the picture.  I loved the tall, dark and handsome types (although I have no idea if they were really tall or just midgets who were filmed from a flattering angle.)

One of my all time favorite crushes was Cliff Robertson, who made me swoon in a little-known, little-seen gem called Autumn Leaves with Joan Crawford.   In it, he played a man who seduces spinster Joan, marries her, and then has a mental breakdown.  While that might not sound like a classic, or even a good way to spend a rainy Saturday afternoon, I can assure you that no man-not even Anthony Perkins-did dark, cute and psychotic the way Cliff did.

He was better known for his role as a heroic young JFK in “PT-109,” his Oscar-winning turn as a mentally retarded man who becomes a genius through scientific experimentation in “Charly,” his supporting role in “Picnic” (made me forget William Holden was even there) and, of course, his long second marriage to heiress-actress Dina Merrill.

Cliff Robertson died Saturday at the age of 88.  My 12 year old self is in mourning.


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