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Ron Silver
Ron Silver in the television series Skin (2003)
Ronald Arthur Silver

(1946-07-02)July 2, 1946
New York City, U.S.
DiedMarch 15, 2009(2009-03-15) (aged 62)
New York City, U.S.
Resting placeWestchester Hills Cemetery
EducationUniversity at Buffalo (BA)
St. John's University
  • Actor
  • director
  • producer
  • political activist
Years active1974–2009
Political partyIndependent (after 2001)
Other political
Democratic (before 2001)
Lynne Miller
(m. 1975; div. 1997)
12th President of the Actors' Equity Association
In office
Preceded byColleen Dewhurst
Succeeded byPatrick Quinn

Ronald Arthur Silver (July 2, 1946 – March 15, 2009) was an American actor, director, producer, radio host, and activist. 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, and was nominated for an Emmy for his recurring role as political strategist Bruno Gianelli in The West Wing.[1][2]

Early life

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.[3][4] Silver was raised Jewish on the Lower East Side of Manhattan and attended Stuyvesant High School.[5]

Silver went on to graduate from the State University of New York at Buffalo,[6] 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,[7] and later at The Actors Studio.[8][9] As a student he was exempt from the Vietnam War draft.[10]


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 spinoff from The Mary Tyler Moore Show. Additional screen roles include psychiatrists in the Chuck Norris film Silent Rage and 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 in 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.[11]

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.[12]

In February 2008, Silver began hosting The Ron Silver Show on Sirius Satellite Radio, which focused on politics and public affairs.

Personal life

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.[13]

In 1989, he co-founded the Creative Coalition, an entertainment industry political advocacy organization that champions First Amendment rights, public education, and support for the arts.[3]


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".[14]

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.

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".[15]

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.[16]

President Bush appointed Silver to serve on the Honorary Delegation to accompany him to Jerusalem in May 2008 for the celebration of the 60th anniversary of the State of Israel.[17]

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".[18] 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".[3]


Silver family marker

Silver, a long-time smoker,[19] died on March 15, 2009, at the age of 62, of esophageal cancer,[3][20] which had been diagnosed two years earlier.[21] He is buried at Westchester Hills Cemetery in Hastings-on-Hudson, New York.[citation needed]



Year Title Role Notes
1976 Tunnel Vision Dr. Manuel Labor film debut
1976 Welcome to L.A. Massuese Uncredited
1977 Semi-Tough Vlada Kostov
1982 Silent Rage Dr. Tom Halman
1982 The Entity Phil Sneiderman
1982 Best Friends Larry Weisman
1983 Lovesick Ted Caruso
1983 Silkwood Paul Stone
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
2001 Ali Angelo Dundee
2001 Exposure Gary Whitford Direct-to-Video
2002 The Wisher Campbell
2005 Red Mercury Sidney
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)


Year Title Role Notes
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
2004 Jack Paul Television Movie
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"
2008 Xenophobia President Television Movie


  1. ^ "Winners: 1988". Tony Awards.
  2. ^ "Actor Ron Silver dies in NYC at age 62 of cancer". The Delco Times. Associated Press. Retrieved February 2, 2024.
  3. ^ a b c d Weber, Bruce (March 16, 2009). "Ron Silver, 62, Persuasive Actor and Activist, Dies". The New York Times. Retrieved March 27, 2010.
  4. ^ "Ron Silver Biography (1946-)". Film Retrieved November 1, 2007.
  5. ^ "Ron Silver". Greater Talent Network. Archived from the original on August 13, 2006. Retrieved November 1, 2007.
  6. ^ McLellan, Dennis (March 16, 2009). "Ron Silver dies at 62; Tony-winning actor and political activist". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved December 3, 2018.
  7. ^ "Ron Silver dies in NYC at age 62 of cancer". Newsday. Melville, NY. Associated Press. March 15, 2009. Retrieved December 3, 2018.
  8. ^ Buck, Jerry (March 20, 1982). "'Baker's Dozen' Star Ron Silver Likes Exotica". The Gettysburg Times. Retrieved December 8, 2012.
  9. ^ Garfield, David (1980). "Appendix: Life Members of The Actors Studio as of January 1980". A Player's Place: The Story of The Actors Studio. New York: MacMillan. p. 280. ISBN 978-0-0254-2650-4.
  10. ^ The real Don Silver The Washington Post November 25, 1990. (subscription required)
  11. ^ "The Arab and Iranian Reaction to 9/11 —Five Years Later— Memrifilms Documentary". Memri Films. Retrieved March 12, 2016.
  12. ^ "Find Me Guilty (2006)", IMDb, retrieved January 9, 2019
  13. ^ "Lawyer sues 'West Wing' actor". Kentucky New Era. Hopkinsville. Associated Press. January 17, 2002. p. B12. Retrieved December 3, 2018.
  14. ^ "Our Mission". One Jerusalem. Retrieved December 3, 2018.
  15. ^ Germain, David (March 16, 2009). "Ron Silver; longtime stage, TV, film actor, political activist; 62". The San Diego Union-Tribune. Retrieved December 3, 2018.
  16. ^ Sembler, Mel (September 8, 2006). "Message from the Chairman". Libby Legal Defense Trust. Archived from the original on October 25, 2006. Retrieved December 3, 2018.
  17. ^ Lake, Eli (May 13, 2008). "Bush Visit May Boost Olmert". The New York Sun. Retrieved December 3, 2018.
  18. ^ Cheyne, James (October 10, 2008). "West Wing's Bruno Speaks To Sky". Sky News. Archived from the original on April 2, 2015. Retrieved February 20, 2022.
  19. ^ Brooks, Xan (March 16, 2009). "Ron Silver, star of film, television and theatre, dies aged 62". The Guardian. London. Retrieved November 7, 2012.
  20. ^ "Actor, activist Ron Silver dies at 62". CNN. March 15, 2009. Retrieved December 3, 2018.
  21. ^ Li, David K. (March 15, 2009). "Ron Silver Dead". New York Post. Retrieved December 3, 2018.