Oscar Roles: Robertson, Cliff in Charly

A proficient if not distinguished actor, Cliff Robertson received the Best Actor Oscar at his first (and only) nomination for “Charly” (1968), a poignant tale about a mentally retarded adult who undergoes brain surgery and blossoms into a genius only to learn that he is doomed to regress to his initial moronic state.

Adapted by Stirling Silliphant from the novel “Flowers for Algernon,” that had been dramatized on TV with Robertson, in 1961, “Charly” is sentimental, outdated problem drama.

Robertson fell in love with the role, bought the movie rights, and after years of trying to set the film at various studios, persuaded Selmur Productions to make it.

Oscar Context

In 1968, Robertson won the Best Actor Oscar in a contest that included: Alan Arkin in “The Heart Is a Lonely Hunter,” Alan Bates in “The Fixer,” Ron Moody in “Oliver!” and Peter O'Toole in “The Lion in Winter.”

Note that, with the exception of Arkin, the three other contenders were Brits.