Television and film star Ron Silver, famous for his roles on Rhoda in the 1970s and The West Wing in the 2000s, died Sunday in New York City after a 24-month bout with stomach cancer.
There wasn't too much that was conventional about Silver. A life-long Democrat and founder of the very liberal Creative Coalition, he became first an Independent and then a Republican in the wake of the Sept. 11 terrorist attack. The reason for the change, he said at the time, was because he was disappointed in the Democrats' policy on terrorism.
Although Silver got his career start in film, he quickly made the transition to television, and would often switch between the two for the rest of his career.
In 2004, Silver appeared at the Republican National Convention and delivered a speech that floored the room -- and shook the Hollywood machine:
Even though I am a well-recognized liberal on many issues confronting our society today, I find it ironic that many human rights advocates and outspoken members of my own entertainment community are often on the front lines to protest repression, for which I applaud them but they are usually the first ones to oppose any use of force to take care of these horrors that they catalogue repeatedly.The speech put an end to his off-and-on Hollywood film career. Inexplicably, producers of The West Wing revived his role as "Bruno Gianelli" in 2005, but when the show ended in 2006, Silver's television career was finished, as well.
Under the unwavering leadership of President Bush, the cause of freedom and democracy is being advanced by the courageous men and women serving in our Armed Services.
The President is doing exactly the right thing. That is why we need this President at this time!
Silver still managed to find work, but this time, it was his politics that took center stage. He hosted The Ron Silver Show for Sirius Satellite Radio and began posting a blog at PajamaMagazine.com. In addition to his political views, Silver talked about how his colleagues would sometime call him "Ron, Ron, the neo-con." "It was all done in fun," he said, "but it had an edge."
Much of the liberal wrath directed at him in those days came because of his support of President Bush. Silver was not one to easily jump off a ship once he had climbed aboard (an unfortunate trait many conservatives share), and on the issue of Bush, we couldn't have disagreed more. However, there was one thing Silver said about Bush, with which I wholeheartedly agree. As Silver was struggling with how the president would be remembered, he suggested, "a revolutionary liberal internationalist? History will so decree."
Ron Silver was a lot of things during his career, but for his outspoken political activism, we honor him at US Conservative Politics & Perspectives. Photo © Stephen Lovekin/Getty Images
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