Sep 16, 2009
Henry Gibson (1935 - 2009)
ABOVE: Henry Gibson and Michael Murphy in Nashville.
Just this Sunday night, I saw Henry Gibson as Judge Clark Brown on "Boston Legal", rolling his eyes over Denny Crane's defense. I haven't watched this show very faithfully in the past few years, so his appearance to me was a surprise. Like many great character actors, this smallish, dryly hilarious actor always seemed to turn up in unexpected places. Although contemporary TV fans might remember his work in "Boston Legal" and as a voice in "King of the Hill", older viewers will recall him from TV's "Rowan and Martin's Laugh In", and on the big screen in numerous films by Robert Altman.
His most enduring role in Altman's filmography was the fiercely patriotic country singer Haven Hamilton in Nashville ("You don't belong in Nashville- you need a haircut."). But he was also fun in A Perfect Couple (1979), one of the director's lesser appreciated films, and as the psychiatrist in The Long Goodbye (1973). Gibson was also the leader of "the fuckin' Nazi party" in John Landis' The Blues Brothers (1980)- one of the many story threads that gave the filmmakers more excuses to destroy property. It was even fun to see him as Gabe Kaplan's father in the Canadian-made tax write-off Tulips (1981). After three decades of busy film and television work, Paul Thomas Anderson gave him a role as the effeminate barfly in Magnolia (1999), out of inspiration by the director.
The actors all wrote their own lyrics for Nashville, and so we salute Henry Gibson for penning the song "For the Sake of the Children", which we sing around our house....
"...For Jimmy's been wishing....
That I'd take him fishing..."