Jason Nelson Robards Jr. (July 26, 1922 – December 26, 2000) was an American stage, film, and television actor. He was a winner of a Tony Award, two Academy Awards and an Emmy Award. He was also a United States Navy combat veteran of World War II.
In Once Upon a Time in the West (1968)
Jason Nelson Robards Jr.
July 26, 1922
Chicago, Illinois, U.S.
|Died||December 26, 2000 78) (aged|
Bridgeport, Connecticut, U.S.
|Education||Hollywood High School|
|Alma mater||American Academy of Dramatic Arts|
|Known for||Playing historical figures,|
(m. 1948; div. 1958)
(m. 1959; div. 1961)
(m. 1961; div. 1969)
Lois O'Connor (m. 1970)
|Children||6, including Sam Robards|
|Parent(s)||Jason Robards, Sr.,|
Hope Maxine (née Glanville)
|Years of service||1940–46|
|Battles/wars||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 both in common-man roles and as well-known historical figures.
Early life and education
Robards was born July 26, 1922, in Chicago, the son of Hope Maxine (née Glanville) Robards (1895–1992) and Jason Robards Sr. (1892–1963), an actor who regularly appeared on the stage and in such early films as The Gamblers (1929). Robards was of German, English, Welsh, Irish, and Swedish descent.
The family moved to New York City when Jason Jr. was still a toddler, and then moved to Los Angeles 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 world view.
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 enlist in the United States Navy upon his graduation in 1940.
Naval service in World War II
Following the completion of recruit training and radio school, Robards was assigned to the heavy cruiser USS Northampton in 1941 as a radioman 3rd class. On December 7, 1941, Northampton was at sea in the Pacific Ocean about 100 miles (160 km) off Hawaii. Contrary to some stories, he did not see the devastation of the Japanese attack on Hawaii until Northampton returned to Pearl Harbor two days later. 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 in the waters north of Guadalcanal 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. For her service in the war, Northampton was awarded six battle stars.
Two years later, in November 1944, Robards was radioman aboard the light cruiser USS Nashville, 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 the plane's two bombs set the midsection of the ship ablaze. With this damage and 223 casualties, 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, contrary to what has been reported in numerous sources. The inaccurate story derives from a 1979 column by Hy Gardner.
Aboard Nashville, Robards first found a copy of Eugene O'Neill's play Strange Interlude in the ship's library. Also while in the Navy, 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.
Robards got into acting after the war and his career began slowly. He moved to New York City and found small parts – first in radio and then on the stage. His first film was Follow That Music, a short movie from 1947. His big break was landing the starring role in José Quintero's 1956 off Broadway theatre revival 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 another 1985 Broadway revival also staged by Quintero. Robards created the role of Jamie Tyrone in the original Broadway production of O'Neill's Pulitzer Prize- and Tony Award-winning Long Day's Journey into Night, which was also directed by Quintero; Robards appeared in the lead role of James Tyrone Sr., in a 1988 production of the same play. Other O'Neill plays directed by Quintero and featuring Robards included 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 (1947), 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, Hour of the Gun as Doc Holliday (1967), 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 film 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 also played in the 1970 film Tora! Tora! Tora!, a depiction of the attack on Pearl Harbor on December 7, 1941 that led the United States into World War II.
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.
Robards received eight Tony Award nominations, – more than any other male actor as of March 2017. 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), portraying Washington Post editor Ben Bradlee, and for Julia (1977), portraying writer Dashiell Hammett (1977). He was also nominated for another Academy Award for his role as Howard Hughes in Melvin and Howard (1980).
Robards received a Primetime Emmy Award for Outstanding Lead Actor in a Limited Series or Movie for his role in the television film Inherit the Wind (1988).
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 first 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.
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, Robards offered to narrate the schizophrenia program, saying that his first wife had been institutionalized for that illness.
Robards is in the American Theater Hall of Fame, inducted in 1979.
Personal life and death
Robards had six children from his four marriages, including actor Jason Robards III and two others with his first wife, Eleanor Pittman; actor Sam Robards with his third wife, actress Lauren Bacall, to whom he was married in 1961. They divorced in 1969, in part because of his alcoholism. Robards had two more children with his fourth wife (widow), Lois O'Connor.
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 longtime struggle with alcoholism. Robards overcame his addiction and went on to publicly campaign for alcoholism awareness.
The Jason Robards Award was created by the Roundabout Theatre Company in New York City in his honor and his relationship with the theatre.
|November 7, 1956 – March 29, 1958||Long Day's Journey into Night||James Tyrone Jr.||Theatre World Award|
Nominated - Tony Award for Best Featured Actor in a Play
|June 23, 1958 – September 23, 1958||Henry IV, Part 1||Hotspur||In repertory at the Stratford Shakespearean Festival|
|July 21, 1958 – September 13, 1958||The Winter's Tale||Polixenes||In repertory at the Stratford Shakespearean Festival|
|December 3, 1958 – May 16, 1959||The Disenchanted||Manley Halliday||Tony Award for Best Actor in a Play|
|February 25, 1960 – April 8, 1961||Toys in the Attic||Julian Berniers||Nominated - Tony Award for Best Actor in a Play|
|March 15, 1961 – June 10, 1961||Big Fish, Little Fish||William Baker|
|April 5, 1962 – April 13, 1963||A Thousand Clowns||Murray Burns|
|January 23, 1964 – May 29, 1965||After the Fall||Quentin||Nominated - Tony Award for Best Actor in a Play|
|March 12, 1964 – July 2, 1964||But for Whom Charlie||Seymour Rosenthal|
|December 22, 1964 – January 30, 1965||Hughie||"Erie" Smith||Nominated - Tony Award for Best Actor in a Play|
|November 16, 1965 – January 22, 1966||The Devils||Urbain Grandier|
|October 16, 1968 – December 29, 1968||We Bombed in New Haven||Captain Starkey|
|March 15, 1972 – May 6, 1972||The Country Girl||Frank Elgin||Nominated - Tony Award for Best Actor in a Play|
|December 29, 1973 – November 17, 1974||A Moon for the Misbegotten||James Tyrone Jr.||Nominated - Tony Award for Best Actor in a Play|
|December 28, 1977 – April 30, 1978||A Touch of the Poet||Cornelius Melody||Nominated - Tony Award for Best Actor in a Play|
|April 4, 1983 – January 1, 1984||You Can't Take It with You||Martin Vanderhof|
|September 29, 1985 – December 1, 1985||The Iceman Cometh||Theodore Hickman "Hickey"|
|April 16, 1987 – April 18, 1987||A Month of Sundays||Cooper|
|June 23, 1988 – July 23, 1988||Ah, Wilderness!||Nat Miller|
|June 14, 1988 – July 23, 1988||Long Day's Journey into Night||James Tyrone|
|October 31, 1989 – January 21, 1990||Love Letters||Andrew Makepiece Ladd III|
|November 17, 1991 – February 22, 1992||Park Your Car in Harvard Yard||Jacob Brackish|
|January 27, 1994 – March 20, 1994||No Man's Land||Hirst|
Source: "Jason Robards, Jr". Playbill Vault. Retrieved September 20, 2013.
|1951–1954||The Big Story||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: "The Town That Refused to Die"
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||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||Dr. Rank||TV movie|
|1960||Dow Hour of Great Mysteries||Detective Anderson||Episode: "The Bat" by Mary Roberts Rinehart|
|The Play of the Week||Theodore 'Hickey' Hickman||Episode: "The Iceman Cometh"|
|1962||Westinghouse Presents: That's Where the Town is Going||Hobart Cramm||TV movie|
|1964||Abe Lincoln in Illinois||Abraham Lincoln||TV movie|
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||Reader||TV movie|
|1972||Circle of Fear||Elliot Brent||Episode: "The Dead We Leave Behind"|
|The House Without a Christmas Tree||Jamie Mills||TV movie|
|1973||The Thanksgiving Treasure||James Mills||TV movie|
|1974||The Country Girl||Frank Elgin|
|1975||The Easter Promise||Jamie||TV movie|
|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||Jamie Mills||TV movie|
|1977||Washington: Behind Closed Doors||President Richard Monckton||Miniseries; six episodes|
Nominated - Primetime Emmy Award for Outstanding Lead Actor in a Limited Series
|1978||A Christmas to Remember||Daniel Larson||TV movie|
|1980||F.D.R.: The Last Year||President Franklin D. Roosevelt||TV movie|
Nominated - Primetime Emmy Award for Outstanding Lead Actor in a Limited Series or a Special
|Haywire||Leland Hayward||TV movie|
|1983||The Day After||Dr. Russell Oakes|
|1984||American Playhouse||Erie Smith||Episode: "Hughie"|
|Sakharov||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||Alvin Binder|
|The Long Hot Summer||Will Varner|
|1986||Johnny Bull||Stephen Kovacs||TV movie|
|The Last Frontier||Ed Stenning|
|1987||Laguna Heat||Wade Shepard||TV movie|
|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||John Tanner||TV movie|
|Thomas Hart Benton||Narrator||TV movie|
|1990||The Civil War||Ulysses S. Grant (voice)||Nine 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||Mark Twain||TV movie|
Nominated - CableACE Award for Best Actor in a Movie or Miniseries
|1992||Lincoln||Abraham Lincoln (voice)||TV movie|
|1994||The Enemy Within||General R. Pendleton Lloyd|
|1995||My Antonia||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||Final appearance|
Source: "Jason Robards". IMDb. Retrieved October 22, 2013.
- "Robards, Jason Nelson, Jr., RM1c". Together We Served. Retrieved March 18, 2018.
- Jason Robards genealogy.
- "NewsLibrary Search Results". newsbank.com.
- 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
- Sterner, C. Douglas. Index: Recipients of the Navy Cross, All Wars/All Periods, All Branches of Service. Pueblo CO, 2006
- Gardner, Hy. Panorama magazine, Vol. II, No. 1, Sunday Daily Herald, January 7, 1979, p. 2
- 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" Archived February 19, 2005, at the Wayback Machine.
- "Oscars data base of nominees and winners" Archived February 8, 2009, at the Wayback Machine.
- "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" (PDF). New York Times. Retrieved March 13, 2014.
- Bacall, Lauren. (2006). By Myself and Then Some. p. 377. HarperCollins, New York City. ISBN 978-0-06-112791-5.
- "Sarasota Herald-Tribune - Google News Archive Search". google.com.
- "Archived copy" (PDF). Archived from the original (PDF) on March 4, 2016. Retrieved January 19, 2015.CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)
- "From the Archives" feature ("The Week of July 8") of The Advocate (Stamford, Connecticut), July 9, 2007, page A7, Stamford edition.