Sunday, September 11, 2011

Goodbye, Charly

Charly has been my best friend for more than 40 years, though we never met in real life. We couldn't, him being a fictional character and all.

Charly and I grew smarter at about the same time, though his growth, thanks to his surgery, was much more rapid. He enjoyed being intelligent, at times far too much so. I was more ambiguous. His retreating IQ was much more rapid, but in that retreat were lessons that I've tried to appreciate over the decades since Daniel Keyes put Charly away forever.

I think Cliff Robertson enjoyed his relationship with Charly for some of the same reasons that I did. He played the character often over his career, sometimes with Algernon, sometimes in roles that had no mouse, but always with real deference to the complexity of the mind. In time, I confused, or perhaps commingled is the better word, Charlie Gibson and Cliff Robertson, a compliment to the actor's skill. Mr. Robertson was reputed to be one of the smartest men in Hollywood. I'd believe it. A real clue to its truth is how poorly he fit his industry when not in front of a camera.

Rush Limbaugh mentioned recently that Steve Jobs is one of five people who Rush would like to meet in person, a point of agreement. For me, Cliff Robertson was another. He was an interesting man: actor, thinker, highly skilled pilot, professional-level trap shooter, honest, brave, curious, intense and comfortable.

Thank you, Mr. Robertson, for providing an image of my imaginary best friend that has remained dynamic and real for nearly half a century.

1 comment:

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