Christmas Day of 1976 my brother and his girlfriend talked me in to going with him to see a movie named “Silver Streak”. We wanted to see it because it had two things going for it. One was funnyman Gene Wilder and the other was comedian Richard Pryor. This would be the first on screen performance of this comedy team.
The movie would be a first for me as well in many ways. One was it was the first time I would ever see anything regarding Star Wars. The movie trailer was played before the film started. This would be what many of us would talk about until the films first release. The other first was the initial time I would ever see actress Jill Clayburgh. Her role as Gene Wilder’s love interest in the movie made me want to protect her from the villains that we after her. She was beautiful, smart and sexy. She became an actress that I would remember and follow for years to come.
In the early hours of November 5th Jill Clayburgh, surrounded by her family, succumbed to chronic lymphocytic leukemia after a 20 year battle. She left us with a 40 year film & TV career .
After Sliver Streak , I remember her first movie with Burt Reynolds called ‘Semi-Tough’ (1977). She had a weird thing going on with him and Kris Kristofferson. It was her next movie in 1978 would get critics and her peers to take her serious as an actress. The movie was called “ An Unmarried Woman” and it would be nominated for three Academy Awards including Best Picture, Best Actress (Jill Clayburgh) and Best Writing. Clayburgh was robbed of the award by Jane Fonda in ‘Coming Home’but would win it during the 1978 Cannes Film Festival. Anyone who saw the movie can not forget her dance around the house in her underwear long before Tom Cruise made his debut doing it.
She also received an Oscar nomination for her part in the 1979 movie ‘Starting Over’. Other films include ‘It’s My Turn’ (1980), ‘Shy People(1987), ‘Hanna K’ (1983), and many more. She will be seen in the upcoming movie ‘Love and Other Drugs’.
Television audiences know Clayburgh from the roles she did in series like ‘Law and Order’, ‘Nip/Tuck’ and as the main character’s mother in ‘Ally McBeal.’ Clayburgh appeared in the ABC TV series ‘Dirty Sexy Money’ in 2007 to 2009.
Jill Clayburgh was 66.