by Joel Eisner
On Saturday September 10, 2011, actor Cliff Robertson who is known to Batfans as the Shame, the Conviving Cowboy of Crime passed away from natural causes one day after his 88th birthday.
Robertson was among the last of the remaining male villains still alive from the Batman series. With the death of Van Johnson (The Minstral) in 2008, and now Robertson, only three are left. Eli Wallach (3rd Mr Freeze), John Astin (2nd Riddler) and Malachi Throne (Falseface).
Years ago I spoke with Robertson (who had ventured into fantasy back in the 50's, with his Rod Brown of the Rocket Rangers tv series and his appearances on Twilight Zone and Outer Limits) about how he came to appear on Batman. He replied “I remember the producers making several calls ahead of time, saying, ‘We would love to have you on the show’. I was doing two films, when I talked with them, and at one point they said, ‘What kind of character would you like to play?’ I said it might be kind of fun to play a very, very, very dumb cowboy, who took himself very, very seriously. Then they decided to do a takeoff on Shane. That is how they came up with his name, Shame. I recall they kind of let me pick my own costume, and I did a lot of my own stunts. I remember that the episodes that I did were the greatest fun—the most fun that I ever had on a show. The director gave me all kinds of latitude to work with the character
After his first appearance, during the second season, Robertson returned for a two part story and asked the producers if they would let him bring his new wife, actress Dina Merrill, they agreed and cast her as Calamity Jan.
Robertson also recalled an incident involving his his young daughter (from his previous marriage) and Adam West. “I recall taking my daughter to see Adam West. She was then five years old and, mind you, I was only starring in movies at the time, which didn’t make much of an impression on her. But when she met Adam, she said, ‘Daddy, I didn’t know you knew such important people.’”
In the last years of his life, Robertson switched from Batman to Spiderman when he portrayed Peter Parker's Uncle Ben in the new Spiderman features films.
He will be missed.
He will be missed.