Ron Silver was one of those Hollywood political activists whom one had to admire for his courage, unlike others who too often preen about their own courage, but really just follow the political consensus of the movie and TV industry.
Ron Silver started as a conventional Hollywood liberal, but then underwent a kind of experience on the Road to Damascus as a result of the attacks of 9/11. Ron Silver came to realize that terrorism in our time was a serious matter and that there was one political party that was serious about it and one that was not. Ron Silver became that rarest and most precious of people, a Hollywood Republican.
To be a Republican in the movie and TV industry is to hold to the politics that dare not speak its name. Ron Silver compounded his sin by speaking at the 2004 Republican National Convention and openly supporting President George W. Bush.
While Ron Silver had a blog on Pajamas Media and had started a new show about politics on satellite radio, he still managed to find some work in television and film after his conversion, despite his politics. It was perhaps his good nature that allowed him to have friendships across the political spectrum, even as he crossed from its left side to the right.
Frank Luntz, the Republican pollster said of Ron Silver, “Ron had a habit of making people mad. He made Republicans mad because he ridiculed their social agenda and lack of charitable efforts towards the needy. He made Democrats mad because he challenged their commitment to national security and their unwillingness to support a muscular foreign and defense policy. But everyone who engaged in arguing with Ron couldn’t walk away without a hug and without respect for this incredibly brilliant intellectual trapped within an actor’s body.”
Paul Begala, the former Clinton advisor and liberal pundit, said, “With the passing of activist and actor Ron Silver, the intersection of art and politics has lost one of the truly good guys. I did not know Ron well, but we’d run into each other at various political events. As he moved from left to right he maintained a sense of decency, a sense of humor, and a sense of mutual respect far too often lacking in political combatants — your humble author included.”
Ron Silver’s movie and television credits include Enemies, a Love Story, Reversal of Fortune, Time Cop, Chicago Hope, Veronica’s Closet, and the West Wing. Before he was an actor, Ron Silver taught Hugh School Spanish and was a fluent Mandarian speaker, which served him in good stead during a job for the US Government in Taiwan.
Ron Silver, a long time smoker, died of Esophageal cancer at the far too young age of 62.
Sources: Ron Silver, IMDB
Ron Silver and the Courage of Conviction, Frank Luntz, The Huffington Post, March 15th, 2009
A Tribute to Ron Silver, Paul Begala, The Huffington Post, March 15th, 2009