Ronald Arthur Silver
July 2, 1946
New York City, U.S.
|Died||March 15, 2009 (aged 62)|
New York City, U.S.
|Resting place||Westchester Hills Cemetery|
|Alma mater||University at Buffalo|
St. John's University
|Occupation||Actor, director, producer, political activist|
(m. 1975; div. 1997)
|12th President of the Actors' Equity Association|
|Preceded by||Colleen Dewhurst|
|Succeeded by||Patrick Quinn|
Ronald Arthur Silver (July 2, 1946 – March 15, 2009) was an American actor/activist, director, producer, and radio host. As an actor, he portrayed Henry Kissinger, Alan Dershowitz and Angelo Dundee. He was awarded a Tony in 1988 for Best Actor for Speed-the-Plow, a satirical dissection of the American movie business.
Silver was born on July 2, 1946, in Manhattan, the son of May (née Zimelman), a substitute teacher, and Irving Roy Silver, a clothing sales executive. Silver was raised Jewish on the Lower East Side of Manhattan and attended Stuyvesant High School.
Silver went on to graduate from the State University of New York at Buffalo, with a Bachelor of Arts in Spanish and Chinese, and received a master's degree in Chinese History from St. John's University in New York and the Chinese Culture University in Taiwan. He also attended Columbia University's Graduate School of International Affairs (SIPA) and studied acting at the Herbert Berghof Studio, and later at The Actors Studio.
Silver got his big acting break starring in El Grande de Coca-Cola in 1974. Producers Richard Flanzer and Roy Silver (no relation) opened it at the famed Whisky a Go Go on the Sunset Strip in Los Angeles. The production ran for more than a year. Silver and his co-star, actor Jeff Goldblum, were discovered by Hollywood film agents during this show's run.
In 1976, he made his film debut in Tunnel Vision, and also played a placekicker in the football comedy film Semi-Tough. From 1976 to 1978, he had a recurring role as Gary Levy in the sitcom Rhoda, a spin-off from The Mary Tyler Moore Show. Additional screen roles include a psychiatrist in the horror story The Entity (1983), the devoted son of Anne Bancroft in Garbo Talks (1984), an incompetent detective in Eat and Run (1986), the pistol-wielding psychopath stalking Jamie Lee Curtis in 1989's Blue Steel, and the lead in Paul Mazursky's Oscar-nominated Enemies: A Love Story (1989).
He starred as Jerry Lewis's character's son in the multi-episode "Garment District Arc" of the television crime series Wiseguy (1988).
He portrayed two well-known attorneys in films based on actual events, playing defense attorney Alan Dershowitz in the drama Reversal of Fortune (1990), based on the trial of Claus von Bülow and defense attorney Robert Shapiro in the television film American Tragedy (2000), the story of the O. J. Simpson trial.
From 1991 to 2000, Silver served as president of the Actors' Equity Association. He played a film producer in Best Friends opposite Burt Reynolds and Goldie Hawn (1982), an actor in Lovesick (1983) and a film director in Mr. Saturday Night (1992). Silver portrayed a corrupt, rogue senator in the 1994 Jean-Claude Van Damme sci-fi thriller Timecop.
On television in 1998, he starred opposite Kirstie Alley for season two of her TV comedy series Veronica's Closet.
In other films based on true stories, Silver portrayed tennis player Bobby Riggs in the TV docudrama When Billie Beat Bobby (2001), about Riggs' real-life exhibition tennis match against Billie Jean King, which Riggs lost. He was also featured as Muhammad Ali's boxing trainer and cornerman Angelo Dundee in Michael Mann's 2001 biopic Ali.
From 2001 to 2002 and again from 2005 to 2006, he had a recurring role as presidential campaign adviser Bruno Gianelli on the NBC series The West Wing.
Silver provided the narration for the 2004 political documentary film FahrenHYPE 9/11 that was produced as a conservative political response to the award-winning and controversial Michael Moore documentary film, Fahrenheit 9/11.
Silver also narrated a MEMRI documentary film about the Arab and Iranian reactions to the September 11 attacks called The Arab and Iranian Reaction to 911: Five Years Later.
Additionally, Silver narrated the audiobook versions of several Philip Roth novels, including American Pastoral, The Plot Against America, and Portnoy's Complaint.
One of his final film performances was as a judge in another true story, 2006's Find Me Guilty, directed by Sidney Lumet and starring Vin Diesel.
In February 2008, Silver began hosting The Ron Silver Show on Sirius Satellite Radio, which focused on politics and public affairs. The show aired live from 9–11am ET, on Indie Talk, Sirius 110.
Silver traveled to more than 30 countries and spoke fluent Mandarin Chinese and Spanish. He taught at the high school level and was a social worker for the Department of Social Services.
In 1975, he married a social worker, later Self magazine editor, Lynne Miller; the marriage lasted until 1997, when they divorced.
In 1989, he co-founded the Creative Coalition, an entertainment industry political advocacy organization that champions for First Amendment rights, public education, and support for the arts.
Silver was a member of the Council on Foreign Relations. In 2000, he co-founded the organization One Jerusalem to oppose the Oslo Peace Agreement and to maintain "a united Jerusalem as the undivided capital of Israel".
Silver, who had been a lifelong Democrat, left the party and became an independent and a supporter of President George W. Bush after the September 11 attacks, citing those attacks and Democratic policies regarding terrorism as reasons. He spoke at the 2004 Republican National Convention, continued to support President Bush, and was appointed Chairman for the Millennium Committee by New York Mayor Rudy Giuliani.
After he flipped political affiliations and endorsed President Bush, he was ostracized by friends and colleagues. In Silver's blog on the PJ Media website, he claimed that colleagues on the set of The West Wing referred to him as "Ron, Ron, the Neo-Con".
On October 7, 2005, Silver was nominated by President Bush to be a Member of the Board of Directors of the United States Institute of Peace. On September 8, 2006, it was announced that Silver had joined an advisory committee to the Lewis Libby Legal Defense Trust.
President George W. Bush appointed Silver to serve on the Honorary Delegation to accompany him to Jerusalem for the celebration of the 60th anniversary of the State of Israel in May 2008.
In one of his last televised interviews, he told Sky News that Senator John McCain's choice of Sarah Palin as his running mate in the 2008 Presidential election was a "brilliant political choice" but that a part of him wished to "see an African American become president in my lifetime". According to the obituary printed by The New York Times, his brother, Mitchell Silver, noted that "He told me that he did vote for Barack Obama in the end".
Silver, a long-time smoker, died on March 15, 2009, of esophageal cancer, which had been diagnosed two years earlier, at the age of 62. He is buried at Westchester Hills Cemetery in Hastings-on-Hudson, New York.
|1976||Tunnel Vision||Dr. Manuel Labor||film debut|
|1976||Welcome to L.A.||Massuese||Uncredited|
|1982||Silent Rage||Dr. Tom Halman|
|1982||The Entity||Phil Sneiderman|
|1982||Best Friends||Larry Weisman|
|1984||Romancing the Stone||Vendor|
|1984||The Goodbye People||Eddie Bergson|
|1984||Garbo Talks||Gilbert Rolfe|
|1984||Oh, God! You Devil||Gary Frantz|
|1987||Eat and Run||Mickey McSorely|
|1989||Enemies: A Love Story||Herman|
|1990||Blue Steel||Eugene Hunt|
|1990||Reversal of Fortune||Alan Dershowitz|
|1991||Married to It||Leo Rothenberg|
|1991||The Good Policeman||Isaac Seidel|
|1992||Live Wire||Frank Traveres|
|1992||Mr. Saturday Night||Larry Meyerson|
|1994||Timecop||Sen. Aaron McComb|
|1995||Deadly Outbreak||Colonel Baron||Direct-to-Video|
|1996||The Arrival||Phil Gordian / Mexican Guard|
|1996||Girl 6||Director #2 - LA|
|1996||Danger Zone||Maurice Dupont|
|1998||The White Raven||Tully Windsor|
|1999||Black and White||Simon Herzel|
|2001||Festival in Cannes||Rick Yorkin|
|2006||Find Me Guilty||Judge Sidney Finestein|
|2006||Call It Fiction||Chas||Short|
|2007||The Ten||Fielding Barnes|
|2009||A Secret Promise||Sam Dunbar||(final film role)|
|1974||The Mac Davis Show||unknown||unknown episode|
|1975||Big Eddie||Enzo||Episode: "Hellow Poppa"|
|1975||McMillan & Wife||Art||Episode: "Secrets for Sale"|
|1975||Rhoda||Sonny Michaels||Episode: "Mucho, Macho"|
|1976||The Rockford Files||Ted Haller||Episode: "The Italian Bird Fiasco"|
|1976||The Return of the World's Greatest Detective||Dr. Collins||Television Movie|
|1976–1978||Rhoda||Gary Levy||series regular; 33 episodes|
|1978||Having Babies||Lamar||Episode: "Careers"|
|1978||Murder at the Mardi Gras||Larry Cook||Television Movie|
|1978||Betrayal||Bob Cohen||Television Movie|
|1979||Dear Detective||Detective Schwartz||4 episodes|
|1980||Here's Boomer||Kolodny||Episode: "Private Eye"|
|1980||The Stockard Channing Show||Brad Gabriel||series regular; 13 episodes|
|1981||World of Honor||David Lerner||Television Series|
|1982||Baker's Dozen||Mike Locasale||6 episodes; recurring role|
|1983||Hill Street Blues||Sam Weiser||2 episodes|
|1984||American Playhouse||Gruenwald||Episode: "The Cafeteria"|
|1985||Kane & Abel||Thaddeus Cohen||Television Miniseries; 2 episodes|
|1986||Trapped in Silence||Dr. Jeff Tomlinson||Television Movie|
|1987||Trying Times||Driving Instructor||Episode: "Drive, She Said"|
|1987||Billionaire Boys Club||Ron Levin||Television Movie|
Nominated - Primetime Emmy Award for Outstanding Supporting Actor in a Miniseries or Special
|1988||A Father's Revenge||Max Greewald||Television Movie|
|1988–1989||Wiseguy||David Sternberg||5 episodes; recurring role|
|1990||Screen Two||Asa Kaufman||Episode: "Fellow Traveller"|
|1990||Forgotten Prisoners: The Amnesty Files||Jordan Ford||Television Movie|
|1993||Blind Side||Doug Kaines||Television Movie|
|1993||Lifepod||Terman||Television Movie; also Director|
|1995||A Woman of Independent Means||Arthur||Television Miniseries; 3 episodes|
|1995||Almost Golden: The Jessica Savitch Story||Ron Kershaw||Television Movie|
|1995||Kissinger and Nixon||Henry A. Kissinger/Narrator||Television Movie|
Nominated - Gemini Award for Best Performance by a Lead Actor in a Dramatic Program
|1996||Shadow Zone: The Undead Express||Valentine||Television Movie|
|1996–1997||Chicago Hope||Tommy Wilmette||11 episodes; recurring role|
|1997||The Beneficiary||Guy Girard||Television Movie|
|1997||Skeletons||Peter Crane||Television Movie|
|1998||Rhapsody in Bloom||Mitch Bloom||Television Movie|
|1998–1999||Veronica's Closet||Alec Bilson||series regular; 23 episodes (season 2)|
|1999||Love Is Strange||Tom Ainsworth||Television Movie|
|1999||In the Company of Spies||Tom Lenahan||Television Movie|
|1999||Heat Vision and Jack||Ron Silver||Television Short|
|2000||Ratz||Herb Soric||Television Movie|
|2000||Cutaway||Lieutenant Brian Margate||Television Movie|
|2000||American Tragedy||Robert Shapiro||Television Movie|
|2001||When Billie Beat Bobby||Bobby Riggs||Television Movie|
|2001||The Practice||Attorney John Mockler||Episode: "Killing Time"|
|2001–2006||The West Wing||Bruno Gianelli||19 episodes; recurring role|
Nominated - Primetime Emmy Award for Outstanding Guest Actor in a Drama Series
|2002||Master Spy: The Robert Hanssen Story||Mike Fine||Television Movie|
|2003–2004||Skin||Larry Goldman||6 episodes; recurring role|
Nominated - Daytime Emmy Award for Outstanding Performer in a Children/Youth/Family Special
|2004–2007||Law & Order||Bernie Adler||2 episodes|
|2006||Law & Order: Trial by Jury||Bernie Alder||Episode: "Eros in the Upper Eighties"|
|2007||Crossing Jordan||Shelly Levine||Episode: "Night of the Living Dead"|