March 15, 2009

Actor, activist Ron Silver died at 62

Ron Silver, a Tony-winning actor, political activist and free-speech advocate, has died of cancer at his home in New York, his family said. He was 62.

Silver -- whose screen credits included Reversal of Fortune and Ali -- died of esophageal cancer two years following his diagnosis with the disease, his brother Mitchell told The New York Times.

Silver played Henry Kissinger in the 1995 TV movie Kissinger and Nixon and appeared frequently in series including Rhoda and The West Wing. He appeared frequently on the New York stage and won a Tony in 1988 for his performance in playwright David Mamet's Speed the Plow.

He was a co-founder of the Creative Coalition, an entertainment industry non-profit organization that advocates for First Amendment rights, arts and public education. Silver served on the committees for the Council on Foreign Relations, the Times reported, and was connected to the political world of Washington.

A longtime political liberal who supported the presidential campaigns of Bill Clinton, Silver became a supporter of former President George W. Bush following the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks in New York and Washington, and had a prominent speaking role at the Republican National Convention in 2004. He supported former New York Mayor Rudy Giuliani for president in 2008.

Silver was born in New York July 2, 1946. He earned a master's degree in Asian studies at St. John's University. He is survived by his parents, who live in New York; his brother Mitchell; another brother, Keith; a son, Adam; and a daughter, Alexandra. Silver's only marriage ended in divorce.