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Jason Robards

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Jason Robards, Jr. (July 26, 1922December 26, 2000) was an American actor whose wizened, iconic quality kept him in the forefront of the acting profession for nearly fifty years. He made his name playing in the works of American dramatist Eugene O'Neill, and would regularly return to O'Neill's works throughout his career. Robards' versatility was such that he was cast to equal effect in common-man roles and as well-known historical figures.

Contents

Childhood

Born in Chicago, his father Jason Robards, Sr. was among the better-known actors of the first half of the twentieth century, starring regularly on the stage and in such early films as "The Gamblers" (1929). The family moved to New York City when young Jason was still a toddler, and then moved for good to Los Angeles when he was six years old. As a teen he was a star athlete at Hollywood High School, running a 4:18 mile during his junior year.

Later interviews with Robards suggested that the divorce of his parents, which occurred during his grade-school years, was a trauma that left an indelible mark on Robards' personality and worldview. The young Jason also witnessed firsthand the decline of his father's acting career. Jason Sr. had enojoyed considerable success during the era of silent films, but he fell out of favor after the advent of "talkies," leaving Jason, Jr. soured on the Hollywood film industry. Although his athletic prowess attracted overtures from many universities, upon his graduation in 1940 decided to join the U.S. Navy.

Naval service in World War II

Serving as a radio operator, Robards was assigned to the USS Northampton, a heavy cruiser homeported at Pearl Harbor in Hawaii. Although he is often referred to as a survivor of the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor, on December 7, 1941 Northampton was at sea with the aircraft carrier Enterprise; the two ships returned to Pearl Harbor the following day. However, Robards would indeed see considerable action in the Pacific theater of World War II, initially during the engagements at Wake Island and Midway. Northampton was later directed into the Guadalcanal campaign, where it was involved in the Battle of the Santa Cruz Islands.

During the Battle of Tassafaronga on the night of November 30, 1942, 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. He would remain in the Navy through the end of the war, and be discharged in 1946.

Early acting career

<to be completed>


Awards and honors

Robards received the Academy Award for Best Supporting Actor in consecutive years for All the President's Men (1976) and Julia (1977). He was also nominated for another Oscar for his role in Melvin and Howard (1980) and received the Emmy for Outstanding Lead Actor in a Miniseries or a Special for the 1988 production of Inherit the Wind. He was among the recipients at the Kennedy Center Honors in 1999.

List of credits

Broadway Theatre

Film

Films for Television

References

sv:Jason Robards

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