Cliff Robertson, best known for his Oscar-winning performance as a young mentally disadvantaged man who is cursed with only temporary brilliance thanks to medical science in the 1968 film "Charly," has died at 88.
His secretary of 53 years, Evelyn Christel, told Associated Press that Robertson died in Long Island of natural causes a day after his 88th birthday.
Robertson never rose to the top ranks of leading men, but he remained a popular actor from the mid-1950s into the following century. His later roles included kindly Uncle Ben in the "Spider-Man" movies.
He also gained attention for his second marriage to actress and heiress Dina Merrill, daughter of financier E.F. Hutton and Marjorie Merriweather Post, heiress to the Post cereal fortune and one of the world's richest women. In the 1970s, Robertson blew the whistle on Columbia Pictures president David Begelman over a check-forging scandal.
His biggest triumph, AP writes, came in 1968 with his Academy Award performance in "Charly," as a mentally disabled man who undergoes medical treatment that makes him a genius — until a poignant regression to his former state. Robertson also played a young John F. Kennedy in "PT 109" and the Big Kahuna in "Gidget."
"My father was a loving father, devoted friend, dedicated professional and honorable man," daughter Stephanie Saunders said in a statement, obtained by the wire service. "He stood by his family, friends, and colleagues through good times and bad. He made a difference in all our lives and made our world a better place. We will all miss him terribly."