In memory of Ron Silver

by Stephen Tall on March 16, 2009

Danny Finkelstein at The Times’s Comment Central pays tribute to Ron Silver, known to West Wing fans everywhere as political strategist Bruno Gianelli, who has died:

Ron was one of the most committed political figures in Hollywood, but not in the usual way. A brilliant debater and public speaker, he had been the actor’s union leader for a decade and a well known advocate of abortion rights. And then, in 2004 he took one of the biggest political steps in his life. He endorsed George Bush for President.

Meeting him in New York after he had addressed the Republican Convention, he explained to me that he had taken this big step because he believed that Islamist terrorism was a danger to liberal values, and he didn’t believe the Democrats realised this.

He expected to pay a big professional price. And he did. He found it much more difficult to get big roles in quality productions after his Bush endorsement. But he did get another stint as Bruno, with Gianelli switching sides to become a Republican. …

Ron wasn’t a Republican, though. He remained a liberal. And in 2008 he voted for Barack Obama, telling me that Sarah Palin was the final straw.

Here’s one of his – and indeed the series’ finest moments: