In Once Upon a Time in the West (1968)
|Born||Jason Nelson Robards, Jr.
July 26, 1922
Chicago, Illinois, U.S.
|Died||December 26, 2000
Bridgeport, Connecticut, U.S.
Cause of death
|Known for||Playing Historical Figures,
(m.1970–2000; his death)
|Children||Six, including Sam Robards|
|Parents||Jason Robards, Sr.,
Hope Maxine (nee Glanville) (1895–1992)
Jason Nelson Robards, Jr. (July 26, 1922 – December 26, 2000) was an American actor on stage, and in film and television. He was a winner of the Tony Award, two Academy Awards and the Emmy Award. He was also a United States Navy combat veteran of World War II.
He became famous playing works of American playwright Eugene O'Neill and regularly performed in O'Neill's works throughout his career. Robards was cast in both common-man roles and as well-known historical figures.
Robards was born and raised in Chicago, the son of Hope Maxine (née Glanville) Robards and Jason Robards, Sr.,1 an actor who regularly appeared on the stage and in such early films as The Gamblers (1929). Robards was of English, Welsh, Irish, and Swedish descent.23
The family moved to New York City, New York, when Jason Jr. was still a toddler, and then moved to Los Angeles, California when he was six years old. Later interviews with Robards suggested that the trauma of his parents' divorce, which occurred during his grade-school years, greatly affected his personality and worldview.
As a youth, Robards also witnessed first-hand the decline of his father's acting career. The elder Robards had enjoyed considerable success during the era of silent films, but he fell out of favor after the advent of "talkies" (sound film), leaving the younger Robards soured on the Hollywood film industry.
The teenage Robards excelled in athletics, running a 4:18 mile during his junior year at Hollywood High School in Los Angeles. Although his prowess in sports attracted interest from several universities, Robards decided to join the Navy upon his graduation in 1940.
As a radioman 3rd class in the Navy, Robards served aboard a heavy cruiser, the USS Northampton (CA-26) in 1941. On December 7, 1941, he was aboard the Northampton in the Pacific Ocean about 100 miles (160 km) off Hawaii. Contrary to some stories, he witnessed the devastation of the Japanese attack on Hawaii only afterwards, when the Northampton returned to Pearl Harbor two days later.4 The Northampton was later directed into the Guadalcanal campaign in World War II's Pacific theater, where she participated in the Battle of the Santa Cruz Islands.
During the Battle of Tassafaronga on Guadalcanal on the night of November 30, 1942, the Northampton was sunk by hits from two Japanese torpedoes. Robards found himself treading water until near daybreak, when he was rescued by an American destroyer. For its service in the war the Northampton was awarded five battle stars.
Two years later, in November 1944, Robards was radioman on the USS Nashville (CL-43), the flagship for the invasion of Mindoro in the northern Philippines. On December 13, she was struck by a kamikaze aircraft off Negros Island in the Philippines. The aircraft hit one of the port five-inch gun mounts, while its two bombs set the midsection ablaze. There were 223 casualties, and the Nashville was forced to return to Pearl Harbor and then to the Puget Sound Naval Shipyard in Bremerton, Washington, for repairs.
Robards served honorably during the war, but was not a recipient of the U.S. Navy Cross for bravery, as has been recorded in numerous uncited resources. The inaccurate story that he was a Navy Cross recipient derives from a 1979 column by Hy Gardner5 which stated that Robards was awarded the medal. From this false story, many subsequent references repeated the inaccuracy. But Robards's name does not appear on any official or semi-official rolls of Navy Cross recipients.6
It was on the Nashville that Robards first found a copy of Eugene O’Neill’s play Strange Interlude in the ship’s library.78 It was also in the Navy that he first started thinking seriously about becoming an actor. He had emceed for a Navy band in Pearl Harbor, got a few laughs and decided he liked it. His father suggested he enroll in the American Academy of Dramatic Arts in New York City.7
Robards decided to get into acting after the war and his career started out slowly. He moved to New York City and found small parts — first in radio and then on the stage. His big break was landing the starring role in José Quintero's 1956 off-Broadway-theatre production and the later 1960 television film of O'Neill's The Iceman Cometh, portraying the philosophical salesman Hickey; he won an Obie Award for his stage performance. He later portrayed Hickey again in a 1985 Broadway revival also staged by Quintero, who also directed Robards in Broadway productions of O'Neill's plays: Long Day's Journey Into Night (1956, as Jamie Tyrone, and 1988, as Tyrone, Sr.), Hughie (1964), A Touch of the Poet (1977) and A Moon for the Misbegotten (1973). He repeated his role in Long Day's Journey Into Night in the 1962 film and televised his performances in A Moon for the Misbegotten (1975) and Hughie (1984).
Robards also appeared onstage in a revival of O'Neill's Ah, Wilderness! (1988) directed by Arvin Brown, as well as Lillian Hellman's Toys in the Attic (1960), Arthur Miller's After the Fall (1964), Clifford Odets's The Country Girl (1972) and Harold Pinter's No Man's Land (1994).
He made his film debut in the two-reel comedy Follow That Music (1946), but after his Broadway success he was invited to make his feature debut in The Journey (1959). He became a familiar face to movie audiences throughout the 1960s, notably for his performances in A Thousand Clowns (1965) (repeating his stage performance), The Night They Raided Minsky's (1968) and Once Upon a Time in the West (1968).
Robards played three different U.S. presidents in film. He played the role of Abraham Lincoln in the TV movie The Perfect Tribute (1991) and supplied the voice for two television documentaries, first for "The Presidency: A Splendid Misery" in 1964, and then again in the title role of the 1992 documentary miniseries Lincoln. He also played the role of Ulysses S. Grant in The Legend of the Lone Ranger (1981) and supplied the Union General's voice in the PBS miniseries The Civil War (1990). He also played Franklin D. Roosevelt in FDR: The Final Years (1980).
Robards appeared in two dramatizations based on the Watergate scandal. In 1976 he portrayed Washington Post executive editor Ben Bradlee in the film All the President's Men, based on the book by Carl Bernstein and Bob Woodward. The next year, he played fictional president Richard Monckton (based on Richard Nixon) in the 1977 television miniseries Washington: Behind Closed Doors based on John Ehrlichman's roman à clef The Company. In 1983, Robards starred in the television movie The Day After where he played Dr. Russell Oakes. The movie is one of the most viewed television programs of all time.
In Magnolia (1999), his final feature film role, the ailing Robards portrayed a dying man who reconnects with his estranged son.
Robards received eight Tony Award nominations,9 — more than any other male actor as of October 2009[update]. He won the Tony for Best Performance by a Leading Actor in a Play for his work in The Disenchanted, (1959); this was also his only stage appearance with his father.
He received the Academy Award for Best Supporting Actor in consecutive years for All the President's Men (1976) for portraying Washington Post editor Ben Bradlee and Julia (1977) for portraying writer Dashiell Hammett (1977).10 He was also nominated for another Academy Award for his role as Howard Hughes in Melvin and Howard (1980).
In 1997, Robards received the U.S. National Medal of Arts, the highest honor conferred to an individual artist on behalf of the people. Recipients are selected by the U.S. National Endowment for the Arts and the medal is awarded by the President of the United States.
In 2000, Robards received the 1st Monte Cristo Award, presented by the Eugene O'Neill Theater Center, and named after O'Neill's home. Subsequent recipients have included Edward Albee, Kevin Spacey, Wendy Wasserstein, and Christopher Plummer.
Jason Robards narrated the public radio documentary, Schizophrenia: Voices of an Illness, produced by Lichtenstein Creative Media, which was awarded a 1994 George Foster Peabody Award for Excellence in Broadcasting. According to Time Magazine, Robards offered to narrate the schizophrenia program, saying that his first wife had been institutionalized for that illness.13
Robards had six children from his four marriages, including actor Jason Robards III (born 1949) by his first wife, Eleanor Pittman; and actor Sam Robards by his third wife, actress Lauren Bacall, to whom he was married in 1961: they divorced in 1969, in significant part because of his alcoholism.16
In 1972 he was seriously injured in an automobile accident when he drove his car into the side of a mountain on a winding California road, requiring extensive surgery and facial reconstruction. The accident may have been related to his lifelong struggle with alcoholism.78
His death was mourned by both fans and actors. "He was the last of a breed of actors who dedicated themselves to a life in the theater. Without asking for the role, he was our elder statesman," said actor Kevin Spacey.18
The Jason Robards Award was created by the Roundabout Theatre Company in New York City in his honor and his relationship with the theatre.
|Nov. 7, 1956 – Mar. 29, 1958||Long Day's Journey Into Night||James Tyrone, Jr.||Theatre World Award
Nominated-Tony Award for Best Featured Actor in a Play
|Dec. 3, 1958 – May 16, 1959||The Disenchanted||Manley Halliday||Tony Award for Best Actor in a Play|
|Feb. 25, 1960 – Apr. 8, 1961||Toys in the Attic||Julian Berniers||Nominated-Tony Award for Best Actor in a Play|
|Mar. 15, 1961 – Jun. 10, 1961||Big Fish, Little Fish||William Baker|
|Apr. 5, 1962 – Apr. 13, 1963||A Thousand Clowns||Murray Burns|
|Jan. 23, 1964 – May 29, 1965||After the Fall (play)||Quentin||Nominated-Tony Award for Best Actor in a Play|
|Mar. 12, 1964 – Jul. 2, 1964||But for Whom Charlie||Seymour Rosenthal|
|Dec. 22, 1964 – Jan. 30, 1965||Hughie||"Erie" Smith||Nominated-Tony Award for Best Actor in a Play|
|Nov. 16, 1965 – Jan. 22, 1966||The Devils||Urbain Grandier|
|Oct. 16, 1968 – Dec. 29, 1968||We Bombed in New Haven||Captain Starkey|
|Mar. 15, 1972 – May 6, 1972||The Country Girl||Frank Elgin||Nominated-Tony Award for Best Actor in a Play|
|Dec. 29, 1973 – Nov. 17, 1974||A Moon for the Misbegotten||James Tyrone, Jr.||Nominated-Tony Award for Best Actor in a Play|
|Dec. 28, 1977 – Apr. 30, 1978||A Touch of the Poet||Cornelius Melody||Nominated-Tony Award for Best Actor in a Play|
|Apr. 4, 1983 – Jan. 1, 1984||You Can't Take It with You||Martin Vanderhof|
|Sep. 29, 1985 – Dec. 1, 1985||The Iceman Cometh||Theodore Hickman "Hickey"|
|Apr. 16, 1987 – Apr. 18, 1987||A Month of Sundays (play)||Cooper|
|Jun. 23, 1988 – July 23, 1988||Ah, Wilderness!||Nat Miller|
|Jun 14, 1988 – July 23, 1988||Long Day's Journey Into Night||James Tyrone|
|Oct. 31, 1989 – Jan. 21, 1990||Love Letters||Andrew Makepiece Ladd III|
|Nov. 17, 1991 – Feb. 22, 1992||Park Your Car in Harvard Yard||Jacob Brackish|
|Jan. 27, 1994 – Mar. 20, 1994||No Man's Land||Hirst|
Source: "Jason Robards, Jr.". Playbill Vault. Retrieved 20 September 2013.
|1951–1954||The Big Story (radio/TV series)||Mr. Simms
|episode: Arthur Mielke of the Washington Times Herald
episode: Aaron Dudley, Reporter
|1955||The Philco Television Playhouse||Mason
|episode: The Outsiders
episode: The Death of Billy the Kid
|1955–1956||Armstrong Circle Theatre||Paul Foster
|episode: Man in Shadow
episode: Lost $2 Billion: The Story of Hurricane Diane
|Justice||Karder||episode: Pattern of Lies
episode: Decision by Panic
|1956–1957||The Alcoa Hour||Jayson
episode: The Big Build-Up
episode: Even the Weariest River
|1955-1957||Studio One in Hollywood||Prisoner
|episode: Twenty-Four Hours
episode: The Incredible World of Horace Ford
episode: A Picture in the Paper
|1958||Omnibus (U.S. TV series)||Prime Minister||episode: Moment of Truth|
|1959||Playhouse 90||Robert Jordan||episode: For Whom the Bell Tolls: Part 2|
|NBC Sunday Showcase||Alex Reed||episode: People Kill People Sometimes|
|A Doll's House (TV movie)||Dr. Rank|
|1960||Dow Hour of Great Mysteries||Detective Anderson||episode: The Bat|
|The Play of the Week||Theodore 'Hickey' Hickman||episode: The Iceman Cometh|
|1962||Westinghouse Presents: That's Where the Town is Going (TV movie)||Hobart Cramm|
|1964||Abe Lincoln in Illinois (TV movie)||Abraham Lincoln||Nominated-Primetime Emmy Award for Outstanding Single Performance by an Actor in a Leading Role|
|1963–1966||Bob Hope Presents the Chrysler Theatre||Irish LaFontain
episode: One Day in the Life of Ivan Denisovich
|1966||ABC Stage 67||Royal Earle Thompson||episode: Noon Wine|
|1969||Spoon River (TV movie)||Reader|
|1972||Circle of Fear||Elliot Brent||episode: The Dead We Leave Behind|
|The House Without a Christmas Tree (TV movie)||Jamie Mills|
|1973||The Thanksgiving Treasure (TV movie)||James Mills|
|1974||The Country Girl||Frank Elgin|
|1975||The Easter Promise (TV movie)||Jamie|
|A Moon for the Misbegotten||James Tyrone Jr.||Nominated-Primetime Emmy Award for Outstanding Lead Actor in a Special Program – Drama or Comedy|
|1976||Addie and the King of Hearts (TV movie)||Jamie Mills|
|1977||Washington: Behind Closed Doors (TV miniseries)||President Richard Monckton||6 episodes
Nominated-Primetime Emmy Award for Outstanding Lead Actor in a Limited Series
|1978||A Christmas to Remember (TV movie)||Daniel Larson|
|1980||F.D.R.: The Last Year (TV movie)||President Franklin D. Roosevelt||Nominated-Primetime Emmy Award for Outstanding Lead Actor in a Limited Series or a Special|
|Haywire (TV movie)||Leland Hayward|
|1983||The Day After||Dr. Russell Oakes|
|1984||American Playhouse||Erie Smith||episode: Hughie|
|Sakharov (TV movie)||Andrei Sakharov||Nominated-Golden Globe Award for Best Actor – Miniseries or Television Film|
|Great Performances||Grandpa Martin Vanderhof||episode: You Can't Take It with You|
|1985||The Atlanta Child Murders (miniseries)||Alvin Binder|
|The Long Hot Summer||Will Varner|
|1986||Johnny Bull (TV movie)||Stephen Kovacs|
|The Last Frontier (miniseries)||Ed Stenning|
|1987||Laguna Heat (TV movie)||Wade Shepard|
|Breaking Home Ties||Lloyd|
|1988||Inherit the Wind||Henry Drummond||Primetime Emmy Award for Outstanding Lead Actor in a Miniseries or a Special|
|The Christmas Wife (TV movie)||John Tanner|
|Thomas Hart Benton (TV movie)||Narrator|
|1990||The Civil War (TV series)||Ulysses S. Grant||9 episodes|
|1991||The Perfect Tribute||Abraham Lincoln|
|Chernobyl: The Final Warning||Dr. Armand Hammer|
|An Inconvenient Woman||Jules Mendelson|
|American Masters||Narrator||episode: Helen Hayes: The First Lady of the American Theatre|
|On the Waterways||Narrator||13 episodes|
|Mark Twain and Me (TV movie)||Mark Twain||Nominated- CableACE Award for Best Actor in a Movie or Miniseries|
|1992||Lincoln (TV movie)||Abraham Lincoln||(voice)|
|1994||The Enemy Within||General R. Pendleton Lloyd|
|1995||My Antonia (film)||Josea Burden|
|1996–1997||The American Experience||Narrator||episode: Truman: Part I
episode: T.R.: The Story of Theodore Roosevelt (Part I)
|2000||Going Home||Charles Barton|
Source: "Jason Robards". IMDb. Retrieved 22 October 2013.
- Jason Robards genealogy.
- Bloomfield, Gary L.; Shain, Stacie L., with Davidson, Arlen C., (2004). Duty, Honor, Applause — America's Entertainers in World War II. p. 264. Lyon's Press, Guilford, Connecticut. ISBN 1-59228-550-3
- Gardner, Hy. Panorama magazine, Vol. II, No. 1, Sunday Daily Herald, January 7, 1979, p. 2
- Sterner, C. Douglas. Index: Recipients of the Navy Cross, All Wars/All Periods, All Branches of Service. Pueblo CO, 2006
- The New York Times Magazine, January 20, 1974
- Black, Steven A., et al. (editors) (2002). Jason Robards Remembered — Essays and Recollections. McFarland & Co., Jefferson, North Carolina. ISBN 978-0-7864-1356-0.
- "American Theatre Wing".
- "Oscars data base of nominees and winners".
- "Emmy Awards Database of nominees and winners".
- "Kennedy Center list of Honorees".
-  Time Magazine "The Souls that Drugs Saved," October 10, 1994.
- "Theater Hall of Fame members".
- "Theater Hall of Fame Enshrines 51 Artists". New York Times. Retrieved March 13, 2014.
- Bacall, Lauren. (2006). By Myself and Then Some. p. 377. HarperCollins, New York, New York. ISBN 978-0-06-112791-5.
- "From the Archives" feature ("The Week of July 8") of The Advocate (Stamford, Connecticut), July 9, 2007, page A7, Stamford edition.
- The New York Times, February 27, 2001
- Jason Robards at the Internet Movie Database
- Jason Robards at the Internet Broadway Database
- Jason Robards at the Internet Off-Broadway Database
- Jason Robards, Jr. | PlaybillVault.com