October 21, 1921|
Prince Rupert, British Columbia, Canada
|Died||February 10, 1999
North Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada
Robert Allan Clothier, DFC (October 21, 1921 – February 10, 1999) was a prominent Canadian stage and television actor most famous for his role on the long-running CBC television show, The Beachcombers. He portrayed Bruno Gerussi's rival beachcomber, Relic – a conniving man of Welsh descent who lived on a house boat and used his speedboat to outrun and challenge Nick's claims to logs.
Like many of his contemporaries, he joined the Royal Canadian Air Force at an early age. He learned to fly at #1 Elementary Flying School and #4 Service Flying Training School, and flew operationally with 408 Squadron RCAF. He was awarded the Distinguished Flying Cross on December 5, 1944, the citation reading,
"This officer has completed numerous sorties in the role of pilot, involving attacks on most of the enemy's heavily defended targets. On all occasions he has pressed home his attacks with great determination and by his personal example of courage, coolness and confidence has set an example which has inspired all with whom he has flown."
On December 23, 1944, while serving as an instructor with No. 5 Operational Training Unit, Boundary Bay, B. C., F/L Clothier was the pilot of a Mitchell bomber that crashed on takeoff. Three on board were killed, and Clothier was the only survivor, but was severely injured with a broken back. He was paralyzed from the waist down for two years. His brother, F/L John George Clothier, was also a pilot in Bomber Command and was killed March 5–6, 1945.
Clothier then studied Architecture at the University of British Columbia followed by a stay in England studying theatre. Clothier returned to British Columbia, eventually settling in the Capilano Highlands area of North Vancouver, and became well known in the Vancouver area as a stage actor and an accomplished sculptor and painter. He landed the memorable role of Relic, the curmudgeonly, unscrupulous rival of Nick Adonidas in The Beachcombers and became a household face as it originally aired from 1972 to 1990, the longest running Canadian television drama of all time. Despite Relic's role as Nick's antagonist, his character was well loved by viewers who enjoyed his antics and his eventual comeuppance. Relic's actual character-name was Stafford Phillips. Relic was once referred to as "Taffy," a reference to an English nursery rhyme, "Taffy was a Welshman."
After The Beachcombers ended its lengthy run, Clothier continued to perform in TV and film productions made in Canada, including two episodes of the American series The X-Files (which initially was filmed in Vancouver).
In 1995, the North Shore Arts Commission, of North Vancouver, British Columbia, honoured Clothier with its first FANS award for his contribution to the arts.
In 1996, Clothier suffered a stroke and was in poor health until his death in 1999 though he taught himself to paint with his left hand and spent some of his last years in a dispute with CBC over royalties he believed were owed to him for reruns and overseas sales of The Beachcombers.
He and his wife, Shirley Broderick, had two children, a daughter, Jessica, and a son, John and a granddaughter, Lucy.