Actor Ron Silver who helped found and later headed the Creative Coalition with fellow actors Alec Baldwin, Ron Silver, Christopher Reeve, Susan Sarandon, Blair Brown and Stephen Collins then became an ardent conservative in the wake of 9/11 has died of esophageal cancer.
In 1992 he told the Los Angeles Times that the Creative Coalition:
came out of the (Michael) Dukakis campaign actually. There was a group of celebrities coming back from Queens after a Dukakis rally and on the bus we were talking–Christine Lahti, Susan Sarandon and all sorts of other people.
I was receiving literature from two groups on the West Coast–the Hollywood Women’s Political Committee and Show Coalition–and I asked why there wasn’t an industrywide network for political education in New York as well. There seemed to be a general frustration that celebrities are just used ornamentally, to raise funds and to put their names on invitations or attract crowds.
We had a power–whether we deserve to have that power or not was a very arguable proposition, but we did. So how could we use it responsibly? We just felt adding our voices together and having an organization behind us would give us access to information and people and we could educate ourselves about the political process.
In another interview Silver–who won a Tony Award for Speed the Plow and appeared in films like Silkwood and Reversal of Fortune as well as on television series ranging from Rhoda to the West Wing–discussed activism:
They say that Hollywood is sex without substance, and Washington is substance without sex, so maybe the marriage of the two is mutually intriguing.
But after 9/11 Silver–who campaigned for Bill Clinton for president; attended the Democratic national conventions in 1992 and 2000; and vocally expressed liberal views on abortion, stem cell research, gay rights–moved to the right, supporting the Bush administration, the war in Iraq and Republican candidates in New York like Rudy Guiliani.
In 2004 Silver, who called himself a 9/11 Republican, spoke at the Republican National Convention endorsing Bush:
The president is doing exactly the right thing and that is why we need this president at this time!
In 2005 he discussed his views on Iraq with the Los Angeles Times:
It sounds like a conversion tale, but I was not reborn. It was fairly consistent with my views in the past. I’ve been a very aggressive liberal interventionist in my foreign policy feelings. I have felt for a long time that the withdrawal of American power was far more dangerous than getting involved.
Whatever his political beliefs, Ron Silver–who who attended Columbia University’s Graduate School of International Affairs, was a member of the Council on Foreign Relations, and being a member of the program committee of the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars, and a founding member of the board of directors for New York City Public/Private Initiatives Inc.–was a dedicated activist, and not an uninformed dabbler.
He recognized star power and was willing to use it. As he told the New York Times in 1993:
What do you want us to do? Have affairs? Become drug addicts? We have a certain visibility and power in the society. We’re a celebrity-driven society. Why not use that to try to do a little good?"
Though "good" can be a relative term…