Jason Robards Sr.

Jason Nelson Robards Sr. (December 31, 1892 – April 4, 1963) was an American stage and screen actor, and the father of Oscar-winning actor Jason Robards Jr. Robards appeared in many films, initially as a leading man, then in character roles and occasional bits. Most of his final roles were in television.

Jason Robards Sr.
in 1927
Born(1892-12-31)December 31, 1892
DiedApril 4, 1963(1963-04-04) (aged 70)
Alma materAmerican Academy of Dramatic Arts
Years active1916–1961
Hope Maxine Glanville
(m. 1914; div. 1927)

Agnes Lynch (m. 1929)
ChildrenJason Robards Jr.

Life and career

Robards was born on a farm in Hillsdale, Michigan, the son of Elizabeth (née Loomis), a schoolteacher, and Frank P. Robards Sr., a farmer and post office inspector who managed Theodore Roosevelt's 1912 Presidential campaign in Michigan. He was raised in Chicago, Illinois.[2][3] He trained at the American Academy of Dramatic Arts. He was billed simply as "Jason Robards" through most of his career, but in his latter years, after his namesake son took up acting, he was generally listed in credits as Jason Robards Sr. He died in 1963 (after which his increasingly famous son switched from "Jason Robards Jr." to "Jason Robards"). Contemporary actors Jason Robards III and Sam Robards are Jason Sr.'s grandsons.

Acting career

Robards's film career lasted primarily from 1921 to 1961. His Broadway credits include the musical Turn To The Right (1917). After 1951, Robards's career consisted mainly of television performances, but prior to that, the Internet Movie Database lists appearances in 208 movies over a 30-year span before he spent another decade acting in various television shows and series.

Robards’s best known stage role was John Marvin in the long-running hit Lightnin'. Robards's connection to the part caused his son to equate him to the character of James Tyrone in Long Day's Journey Into Night, which Jason Jr. played on Broadway in 1956 and on screen in 1962. In the play, Tyrone is an actor whose career is limited by his identification with a single part, The Count of Monte Cristo.

Jason Jr. would later say "One of the most damaging things for me, I realize now, was playing a drunk in the play Long Day's Journey Into Night. In the play, the drunk's father is a failed artist and his mother was a drug addict. It was only after years of analysis I realized I was acting out events in my own life on stage."[4]

In one of his television appearances, Robards played Judge Hesby in the 1958 episode "Dead Reckoning" of the ABC/Warner Brothers western series, Colt .45, starring Wayde Preston. Others in the guest cast were Richard Webb and Lee Van Cleef as Rocky Norton and Devery, respectively.[5]

The Robardses, father and son, acted on stage together only once, in Budd Schulberg's The Disenchanted, a play inspired by the story of F. Scott Fitzgerald. Jason Jr. won his only Tony Award for his performance.[6]

Robards Sr. died, aged 70, in Sherman Oaks, California, at his home.

Partial filmography


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