Robert Shaw

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A couple of years after Jaws came ‘The Deep’ (1977) and unfortunately this was as bad as Jaws was good! But Shaw was a realist and when Nick Nolte and he were discussing how bad the film was, at one point Robert turned to Nolte and said,

‘It's a treasure picture Nick, just a treasure picture.’

One of my favourite roles was his portrayal of Israeli Mossad Agent Major David Kabakov in John Frankenheimers Black Sunday (1977). We knew by now that Shaw could play ruthless characters but in this film he plays one that stays ‘mainly’ on the right side of the law. He puts together a massive performance as the ‘conscience developing’ intel officer who has killed more terrorists than most of us have had hot dinners. John Frankenheimer has a cameo role as the TV director covering the Miami Superbowl game.

The next year he was in ‘Force Ten from Navarone’ (1978) with Edward Fox and Harrison Ford. Although the critics didn’t like it – more of a ‘boys own’ film, it moves along with twists and turns and some good performances. What people don’t realize is that Robert was an award-winning novelist and respected playwright. He adapted his novel about Adolph Eichman "The Man in the Glass Booth" for the stage and a 1975 film. His novel The Hiding Place (1959) was the source material for the screen comedy Situation Hopeless - But Not Serious (1965).

Robert Shaw's brilliance as a performer and writer was underpinned by the early experience of his father's tragic suicide; the resultant fiery over-competitive will to succeed was best channeled in performances that displayed his talent for supreme intensity backed by intelligence. He died of a heart attack at age 51. His second wife (of three) was actress Mary Ure.

‘I drink too much. Will you tell me one great actor who doesn't drink?’

‘I once asked Otto Preminger if it was possible for someone to be a character actor and a star. He said 'No.' I'd like to prove him wrong’

Robert Shaw: More Than a Life (1994)

Suggested films to see:
Jaws (1975)
Black Sunday (1977)
The Sting (1973)
A Man for all seasons (1966)




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