||[Mar. 16th, 2009|02:54 am]
Whipping Pants: A Chicago Hope Community
Have such fond memories of him as Tommy Wilmette
Ron Silver Dead at 62.
Actor and longtime political activist Ron Silver died this morning, succumbing to a long battle with cancer, friends of the liberal Democrat-turned-GOP stalwart told The Post.
"Ron Silver died peacefully in his sleep with his family around him this morning," said Robin Bronk, executive director of the Creative Coalition, which Silver helped create.
"He had been fighting esophageal cancer for two years and his family is making arrangements for a private service."
Friends of Silver first told Post columnist Cindy Adams of the native New Yorker's death.
The steely-eyed, blunt-talking Silver, 62, enjoyed a long career on the stage, TV and in movies, and most recently hosted a public affairs talk show on Sirius satellite radio.
Silver might be best known for playing legal scholar Alan Dershowitz in "Reversal of Fortune," about the successful appeal of Claus von Bulow's conviction for putting his socialite wife into a permanent coma.
Once a self-identified lifelong Democrat, Silver was a founding member of the liberal-leaning Creative Coalition in 1989. But he made a breathtaking political transformation, going from far left to radical right after the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks.
He spoke at the 2004 Republican National Convention in New York, enthusiastically backing a second term for President Bush.
"Twelve years ago I was here for the Democratic convention. I was on the platform committee. Zell Miller was the keynote speaker. A lot's changed since then, I can tell you," a chuckling Silver told The Washington Post.
"If you asked me on September 10, 2001, would I consider going to the Republican National Convention and speaking, I would have thought you were from another planet and didn't know who I was."
Silver's last public appearance came on "Larry King Live" in late October just before last year's presidential election.
The actor seemed to be swinging slightly back to the left, and took a moderate, down-the-line stance on then-Sen. Barack Obama's race with GOP rival John McCain.
Silver acknowledged the GOP's failings under President Bush and seemed resigned to an oncoming landslide.
"The Republican Party, if they are out of power for a while, needs to regroup and rethink who they are as a party," he said. "This deregulation, this whole Reagan Revolution did not seem to work in this crisis."
Silver's art followed his life.
In 19 episodes of the monster political drama "The West Wing," between 2001 and 2006, Silver played hard-driving political consultant Bruno Gianelli, who brought his brash advice to mythical Democratic president Josiah "Jed" Bartlet.
The Gianelli character resurfaced in the "West Wing's" last two seasons when he - like Silver in real life - switched teams and represented a GOP presidential candidate played by Alan Alda.