Jason Robards - Career

Career

Robards decided to get into acting after the war and his career started out slowly. He moved to New York City and found small parts — first in radio and then on the stage. His big break was landing the starring role in José Quintero's 1956 off-Broadway-theatre 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 a 1985 Broadway revival also staged by Quintero, who also directed Robards in Broadway productions of O'Neill's plays: Long Day's Journey Into Night (1956, as Jamie Tyrone, and 1988, as Tyrone, Sr.), 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 on stage 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 had made his film debut in the two-reel comedy Follow That Music (1946), 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), The Night They Raided Minsky's (1968) and Once Upon a Time in the West (1968).

He appeared on television anthology series, including two segments in the mid-1950s of CBS's Appointment with Adventure.

Robards played three different U.S. presidents in film. He played the role of Abraham Lincoln in the TV movie 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 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.

Robards voiced a number of documentaries, including Ken Burns's Empire of the Air: The Men Who Made Radio (1991).

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