Ron Silver
Birth Date:
July 2, 1946
Birth Place:
New York, New York, USA
Famous for:
His role as Gary Levy on TV series Rhoda (1976-78)
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“By inclination, I am more of a politician than I am an actor. I care more about public policy. I care more about pro-choice, the environment, homelessness and nuclear issues than I do about any part.” Ron Silver

Ron Silver (born in 1946, died in 2009) first came to fame playing downstairs neighbor Gary Levy on the television comedy series “Rhoda” from 1976 to 1978. He also played regular roles on the short lived series “The Stockard Channing Show” (1980), “Baker's Dozen” (1982), “Veronica's Closet” (1998-1999) and “Skin” (2003) and recurring roles in popular shows like “Hill Street Blues” (1983), “Wiseguy” (1988-1989), “Chicago Hope” (1996-1997) and “The West Wing” (2001-2002, 2005-2006), where he nabbed a 2002 Emmy nomination for his portrayal of Bruno Gianelli. Silver earned his first Emmy nomination for his supporting role in the TV film “Billionaire Boys Club” (1987) and was nominated for a Gemini Award and a Daytime Emmy Award for the TV films “Kissinger and Nixon” (1995) and “Jack” (2004), respectively. Silver's feature film credits include “The Entity” (1981), “Enemies: A Love Story” (1989), “Reversal of Fortune” (1990), “Timecop” (1994), “The Arrival” (1996), “Ali” (2001), “Find Me Guilty” (2006), “The Ten” (2007) and “My Father's Will” (2009). On stage, Silver won a Tony Award and a Drama Desk Award for his performance in “Speed the Plow” (1988), opposite Joe Mantegna and Madonna.

Besides English, Silver spoke Spanish and Mandarin Chinese fluently. He taught high school and did social work for the Department of Social Services. He was the co-founder of the Creative Coalition and served as president of the Actors Equity Association from 1991 to 2000. He also became a member of the council on Foreign Relations and the executive committee of The Committee for a Secure Peace. In 2000, he co-created One Jerusalem, an organization that opposed the Oslo Peace Agreement.

Silver was a vocal democrat for many years, but later became an independent. He was a supporter of President George W. Bush following the September 11, 2001, attacks. Prior to his death, in 2008, Silver went with President Bush to Jerusalem for the celebration of the 60th anniversary of the State of Israel.

Ronald Arthur

Childhood and Family:

Ron Silver was born Ronald Arthur Silver on July 2, 1946, in New York City, New York, to Irving Silver, a sales executive in the garment industry in New York, and May Silver, a teacher. He was Jewish and grew up on Manhattan's lower east side with his brothers Keith and Mitchell. He was educated at the East Side Hebrew Institute (ESHI) and Stuyvesant High School. He received a Bachelor of Arts in Spanish and Chinese from the State University of New York in Buffalo and a Master's Degree in Chinese history from St. John's University in New York and the College of Chinese Culture in Taiwan. He also attended Columbia University's Graduate School of International Affairs and studied acting at the Herbert Berghof Studio and the Actors Studio.

On December 24, 1975, Ron married actress Lynne Miller (born in 1951), but they divorced in July 1997. The marriage produced two kids, son Adam (born in 1979) and daughter Alexandra (born in 1983).

In 2007, Ron was diagnosed with esophageal cancer, which led to his death on March 15, 2009.



Ron Silver began his career on the New York Stage in 1971. He went on to break into television with guest spots during 1974 to 1976 in “The Mac Davis Show,” “Big Eddie,” “McMillan & Wife” and “The Rockford Files.” It was his first regular role on the CBS sitcom “Rhoda,” a spin-off of “The Mary Tyler Moore Show,” that put the actor in the spotlight. On the Valerie Harper starring sitcom, he was cast in the role of Gary Levy, a role he played from 1976 to 1978. Prior to portraying Gary, he debuted on “Rhoda” as Sonny Michaels in a 1975 episode called “Mucho, Macho.”

Silver made his feature acting debut in “Tunnel Vision,” a 1976 comedy produced by Joe Roth that was co-directed by Neal Israel. His costars included Chevy Chase, John Candy, Howard Hesseman, Joe Flaherty, Laraine Newman, Betty Thomas, Phil Proctor, Al Franken and Tom Davis. Still in 1976, he made his TV film debut in “The Return of the World's Greatest Detective,” a parody of Sherlock Holmes. The actor next supported Burt Reynolds and Kris Kristofferson in the comedy film “Semi-Tough,” an adaptation of Dan Jenkins novel of the same name, was featured in the CBS TV film “Murder at the Mardi Gras” (1978), and costarred with Lesley Ann Warren, Rip Torn and Richard Masur in the NBC TV drama “Betrayal” (1978). He then portrayed the role of Detective Schwartz in the TV film “Dear Detective” (1979), a remake of the 1978 French movie “Dear Inspector” that was directed by Philippe de Broca, and in the subsequent short lived television version of the same title (CBS, also 1979).

In 1980, Silver landed a regular role of the comedy series “The Stockard Channing Show,” starring Stockard Channing as Susan Goodenow. He portrayed Brad Gabriel in the show from January to June 1980. It was followed by his next regular gig on the short lived sitcom “Baker's Dozen” (CBS, 1982), where he played Mike Locasale, and a two episode part (as Sam Weiser) on the NBC police drama “Hill Street Blues” (1983). Silver also appeared in several films, such as the Sidney J. Furie directed “The Entity” (1981), where he starred as Phil Sneiderman opposite Barbara Hershey as Carla Moran, Michael Miller's “Silent Rage” (1982, with Chuck Norris), Norman Jewison's “Best Friends” (1982, starred Burt Reynolds and Goldie Hawn), the indie comedy “Lovesick” (1983, starred Marshall Brickman) and Mike Nichols' “Silkwood” (1983), which starred Meryl Streep as Karen Silkwood.
Silver worked again with director Mike Nichols on Broadway in a production of David Rabe's “Hurlyburly,” where he played Mickey. The play opened on August 7, 1984, at the Ethel Barrymore Theatre. Original Broadway cast members included William Hurt, Harvey Keitel, Jerry Stiller, Judith Ivey, Sigourney Weaver and Cynthia Nixon. He returned to Broadway four years later in David Mamet's “Speed-the-Plow” (1988), which ran for 279 performances from May 3 to December 31, 1988. Silver won a Tony for Best Actor in a Play and a Drama Desk Award for his acting job. The play also earned Tony nominations for Best Play and Best Direction of a Play (Gregory Mosher).

It was also in 1984 that Silver gained his first huge break on the big screen when he was cast as Anne Bancroft's dutiful son, Gilbert Rolfe, in “Garbo Talks,” a movie directed by Sidney Lumet and written by Larry Grusin. The year also found him appearing in Robert Zemeckis' “Romancing the Stone” (starred Michael Douglas, Kathleen Turner and Danny Devito), Herb Gardner's “The Goodbye People” (starred Judd Hirsch) and Paul Bogart's “Oh, God! You Devil” (with George Burns and Ted Wass). Next up for Silver, he costarred in the TV miniseries “Kane & Abel” (1985) and the TV film “Trapped in Silence” (1986), Mickey McSorely in the independent film “Eat and Run” (1986) and appeared in an episode of the anthology series “Trying Times” called “Drive, She Said” (1987).

Silver's television career earned a boost when he played businessman Ron Levin in a two part TV movie titled “Billionaire Boys Club” (1987), which starred Judd Nelson, and was nominated for an Emmy in the category of Outstanding Supporting Actor in a Miniseries or a Special for his performance. He then costarred with Brian Dennehy in the TV film “Das Rattennest” (1988), played the recurring role of David Sternberg in the CBS crime series “Wiseguy” (4 episodes, 1988-1989) and starred with Jamie Lee Curtis and Clancy Brown in “Blue Steel” (1989), an action thriller directed by Kathryn Bigelow. He next received critical acclaim for his portrayal of Herman Broder, a Holocaust survivor, in Paul Mazursky's Academy Award nominated drama “Enemies: A Love Story” (1989), which was based on Isaac Bashevis Singer's novel of the same title.

In 1990, Silver played defense attorney Alan Dershowitz in “Reversal of Fortune,” a film adapted from Dershowitz's 1985 book “Reversal of Fortune: Inside the von Bülow Case,” and Jordan Ford in the TV film “Forgotten Prisoners: The Amnesty Files” (1990). He next portrayed Isaac Seidel in Peter Werner's “The Good Policeman” (1991), Leo Rothenberg in Arthur Hiller's “Married to It” (1991), which reunited him with Stockard Channing, Frank Traveres in Christian Duguay's “Live Wire” (1992, opposite Pierce Brosnan), Larry Meyerson in “Mr. Saturday Night” (1992), a comedy directed by and starring Billy Crystal, and Doug Kaines in “Blind Side” (1993, opposite Rutger Hauer and Rebecca De Mornay). He also delivered a memorable performance as Senator Aaron McComb in Peter Hyams' “Timecop” (1994), costarring Jean-Claude Van Damme, Mia Sara and Gloria Reuben. The versatile actor made his directorial debut with the television film “Lifepod” (1993), which starred Robert Loggia and Jessica Tuck. Silver also appeared in the Fox movie as Terman.

After portraying Arthur in the NBC miniseries “ A Woman of Independent Means” and Ron Kershaw in the biopic “Almost Golden: The Jessica Savitch Story” (both 1995), Silver starred as Henry A. Kissinger, opposite Beau Bridges as Richard Nixon, in the TNT TV film “Kissinger and Nixon” (1995). Under the direction of Daniel Petrie, he was nominated for a 1997 Gemini in the category of Best Performance by an Actor in a Leading Role in a Dramatic Program for his performance. He also played the recurring role of Tommy Wilmette in the David E. Kelley medical drama “Chicago Hope” from 1997 to 1998 before joining the cast of the NBC sitcom “Veronica's Closet” in its second season (1998-1999) as Alec Bilson, Veronica's new business partner and nemesis.

During 1996 to 1999, Silver also worked in several television films and movies. He was memorable playing Phil Gordian in David Twohy's science fiction film “The Arrival” (1996) and as Guy Girard in the TV thriller “The Beneficiary” (1997). His other movie credits included “Deadly Outbreak” (1996), “Danger Zone” (1996), “Skeletons” (1997, TV), “Rhapsody in Bloom” (1998, TV), “The White Raven” (1998), “Black and White” (1999) and “In the Company of Spies” (1999).

Entering the new millennium, Silver starred as photographer Gary Whitford in the thriller “Exposure” (2000), costarred with Kathy Baker in the coming of age comedy “Ratz” (Showtime, 2000), had a supporting role in the indie film “Cutaway” (2000, starred Tom Berenger and Stephen Baldwin), and played Robert Shapiro in “American Tragedy” (2000), a television film adapted from the story of O.J. Simpson's trial for the murder. He then starred as Bobby Riggs in the ABC docudrama “When Billie Beat Bobby” (2001), opposite Holly Hunter as Billie Jean King.

Still in 2001, Silver guest starred in “The Practice” and began his recurring role as presidential campaign advisor Bruno Gianelli on Aaron Sorkin's “The West Wing,” which he held until November 2002 and reprised from March 2005 to April 2006. The role brought him a 2002 Emmy nomination in the category of Outstanding Guest Actor in a Drama Series. On the big screen, Silver gained notice for playing Angelo Dundee on “Ali” (2001), a biographical film of boxing icon Muhammad Ali that was directed by Michael Mann and starred Will Smith. He then costarred with Anouk Aimée, Greta Scacchi and Maximilian Schell in Henry Jaglom's “Festival in Cannes” (2001).

Silver next played Mike Fine in “Master Spy: The Robert Hanssen Story” (2002), a television film about Robert Hanssen (played by William Hurt), a former FBI agent. It was followed by a starring role in the horror movie “The Wisher” (2002), directed by Gavin Wilding and written by Ellen Cook. In 2003, Silver starred as Larry Goldman in the Fox series “Skin,” which was canceled after three episodes because of low ratings. He returned to television as Paul in the Showtime film “Jack” (2004), in which he was again reunited with Stockard Channing. The role brought him a 2005 Daytime Emmy nomination for Outstanding Performer in a Children/Youth/Family Special.

Silver again worked with Channing in the British film “Red Mercury” (2005), which also starred Pete Postlethwaite and Juliet Stevenson, and worked with JoBeth Williams and Jonathan Yvon in “Call It Fiction” (2006), a comedy written and directed by Alexander Rose. He next played Judge Finestein in Sidney Lumet's “Find Me Guilty” (2006), based on the true story about the longest Mafia trial in American history. Also in 2006, he offered a remarkable guest stint as Bernie Adler in “Law & Order: Trial by Jury,” a role he began in a 2004 episode of “Law & Order” called “Paradigm.” He would play the role again in the “Law & Order” episode “Talking Points” in 2007. Silver then played Fielding Barnes in “The Ten” (2007), a comedy directed by David Wain that starred Jessica Alba, Winona Ryder, Paul Rudd, Famke Janssen, Adam Brody and Gretchen Mol, and made a guest appearance in “Crossing Jordan.” In 2008, he was featured in the TV film “Xenophobia.” In the dramatic film “My Father's Will” (2009), which was released exactly 12 days after his death (esophageal cancer), he portrayed Dunbar.


  • Tony: Best Actor (Play), “Speed the Plow,” 1988

  • Drama Desk: “Speed the Plow”

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