Roberts Blossom

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Roberts Blossom
Roberts blossom 1924-2011.jpg
Blossom in 2010
Roberts Scott Blossom

(1924-03-25)March 25, 1924
DiedJuly 8, 2011(2011-07-08) (aged 87)
Alma materHarvard University
Occupation(s)Actor, poet
Years active1955–2000
  • (m. 1966; div. 1970)
  • Marilyn Orshan
    (m. 1970; died 1982)

Roberts Scott Blossom (March 25, 1924 – July 8, 2011) was an American poet and character actor of theatre, film, and television. He is best known for his roles as Old Man Marley in Home Alone (1990) and as Ezra Cobb in the horror film Deranged (1974).[1] He is also remembered for his supporting roles in films such as The Great Gatsby (1974), Close Encounters of the Third Kind (1977), Escape from Alcatraz (1979), Christine (1983), and The Last Temptation of Christ (1988).

Early life[edit]

Roberts Scott Blossom was born on March 25, 1924, in New Haven, Connecticut,[2] to John Blossom, an athletic director at Yale University.[3] He was raised in Cleveland, but later moved to Shaker Heights, Ohio. He attended Hawken School and graduated from Asheville School in 1941 and attended Harvard University for a year until he joined the United States Army and served in World War II in Europe.[3] He trained as a therapist and later decided to be an actor. He began directing and acting in productions at Karamu House and the Candlelight Theater in Cleveland and later moved to New York City, where he supported himself by bundling feathers for hats, and he practiced a disputed therapy called Dianetics. He also waited tables until he became a full-time actor.[4][5]


Blossom began acting on stage during the 1950s. He won three Obie Awards for his performances in the off-Broadway plays Village Wooing (1955), which was his debut, Do Not Pass Go (1965) and The Ice Age (1976).[2] During the 1960s, he formed Filmstage, a multimedia avant garde theatrical troupe. His Broadway credits include Ballad of the Sad Cafe and Operation Sidewinder and in 1988 he appeared in Peter Brook's production of The Cherry Orchard.[5]

Blossom began appearing on screen in 1958. His first appearance in a feature film was in 1971's The Hospital starring George C. Scott and written by Paddy Chayefsky. During the 1970s he had roles in films including The Great Gatsby (1974) starring Robert Redford and Mia Farrow, Slaughterhouse-Five (1972), Steven Spielberg's Close Encounters of the Third Kind (1977), and Escape from Alcatraz (1979) starring Clint Eastwood. Escape from Alcatraz is perhaps Blossom's best known supporting role for the scene where he chopped off his fingers with an axe.[6]

Blossom is remembered for his role as Ezra Cobb in the 1974 horror film Deranged based on American murderer Ed Gein. According to the 2014 book Mad as Hell: The Making of Network and the Fateful Vision of the Angriest Man in Movies by David Itzkoff, the cast of Chayefsky's multiple Oscar-winning film Network originally included Blossom as media mogul Arthur Jensen, but he was replaced in pre-production by Ned Beatty.

Blossom is also known for starring in the 1983 horror film Christine, a film directed by John Carpenter which is an adaptation of the book by Stephen King. He is best known for his role in the 1990 film Home Alone, in which he played Old Man Marley alongside Macaulay Culkin. He appeared in his final film role in 1995 alongside Sharon Stone and Leonardo DiCaprio in The Quick and The Dead (1995). Blossom's other film credits include Doc Hollywood (1991) starring Michael J. Fox; Reuben, Reuben (1983); Resurrection (1980) starring Ellen Burstyn; Flashpoint (1984); Vision Quest (1985) starring Matthew Modine and Linda Fiorentino; and Always (1989).

Blossom made his first television appearance in 1958 in the television series Naked City. From 1976 to 1978, he starred on the television soap opera Another World, for which he won a Soapy Award for Best Villain. His other television credits include Moonlighting, with Cybill Shepherd and Bruce Willis, Tales from the Darkside, The Equalizer, the revived 1980s version of The Twilight Zone and Chicago Hope. His television films include John Brown's Raid, Family Reunion, with Bette Davis, the 1985 version of Noon Wine, Murder in the Heartland and Disney's Balloon Farm, which was his final role as an actor.

In 2000, Blossom appeared in the biography documentary Full Blossom: The Life of Poet/Actor Roberts Blossom,[7][3] in which he talked about his life as an actor and poet. The documentary also featured his children Debbie and Michael, his first wife Beverly, and Ed Asner, Peter Brook and Robert Frank.

Personal life[edit]

Blossom was formerly married to Beverly Schmidt Blossom, with whom he had a son, Michael, and who died on November 1, 2014, of cancer.[8] He was later married to Marylin Orshan Blossom until her death in 1982, with whom he had a daughter, Deborah Blossom.[9]

After Blossom retired from acting in the late 1990s, he moved to Berkeley, California, and spent his time writing poetry.[10] He later moved to Santa Monica, where he died in 2011.


Blossom died on July 8, 2011, at the age of 87 from cerebrovascular disease. He was residing in a nursing home at the time of his death.[4][11]



Title Year Role Director
Echo of an Era (short) 1959 Unnamed/unknown
Henry Freeman
The Sins of Jesus (short) 1961 Unnamed/unknown
The Hospital 1971 Guernsey
The Witches of Salem: The Horror and the Hope (short) 1972 Gov. Phips
Dennis Azzarella
Slaughterhouse-five 1972 Wild Bob Cody
Please Stand by 1972 Judge Nott
Jack Milton; Joanna Milton
Deranged 1974 Ezra Cobb
Alan Ormsby; Jeff Gillen
The Great Gatsby 1974 Mr. Gatz
Handle with Care 1977 Papa Thermodyne
Close Encounters of the Third Kind 1977 Farmer
Escape from Alcatraz 1979 Chester 'Doc' Dalton
Resurrection 1980 John Harper
Christine 1983 George LeBay
Reuben, Reuben 1983 Frank Spofford
Flashpoint 1984 Amarillo
William Tannen
Vision Quest 1985 Harry Swain
Candy Mountain 1987 Archie
The Last Temptation of Christ 1988 Aged Master
Always 1989 Dave
Home Alone 1990 Old Man Marley
Doc Hollywood 1991 Judge Evans
Death Falls 1991 Hals Johnson
June Samson
The Quick and the Dead 1995 Doc Wallace
Full Blossom: The Life of Poet/Actor Roberts Blossom 2000 Himself (documentary)
James Brih Abee


Title Year Role Notes
Naked City 1958 Quint Butcher Episode: "And a Merry Christmas to the Force on Patrol"
The Art Carney Show 1959 Simon Stimson
Camera Three 1959 Himself Episode: "The Eagle, the Tiger and the Fly"
John Brown's Raid 1960 Stevens Television film
The DuPont Show of the Month 1959–1961 Gustav Episodes: "Billy Budd", "The Prisoner of Zenda"
Brenner 1964 Reader Episode: "Charlie Paradise: The Tragic Flute"
The Defenders 1964 Thomas Riggs Episode: "Go Between"
Great Performances 1972 Judge / Preacher Episode: "The Rimers of Eldritch"
Beacon Hill 1975 D.W. Griffith Episode: "The Test"
Another World 1976–1978 Bert Ordway / Sven Petersen Soapy Award for Best Villain (1978)
Mourning Becomes Electra 1978 Seth Mini-series
ABC Weekend Special 1980 Mr. LeGrand Episodes: "The Gold Bug: Parts 1 & 2"
Family Reunion 1981 Phil King Television film
The Wall 1982 Kuchaski Television film
Johnny Belinda 1982 John McAdam Television film
Noon Wine 1985 Mr. McClellan Television film
Amazing Stories 1985 Opa Globe Episode: "Ghost Train"
Moonlighting 1986 Lawrence Everette Episode: "Witness for the Execution"
Tales from the Darkside 1986 Inquisitor Episode: "Heretic"
The Equalizer 1986 Oscar Peabody Episode: "Tip on a Sure Thing"
At Mother's Request 1987 Doug Steele Television film
Stingray 1987 Uncle Pat 'The Cat' Morel Episode: "Bring Me the Hand That Hit Me"
The Twilight Zone 1985–1987 The Man / Mordecai Hawkline Episodes: "The Burning Man", "Song of the Younger World"
In the Heat of the Night 1989 Dr. Harris Pendleton Episode: "Tear Down the Walls"
Northern Exposure 1992 Ned Episode: "Cicely"
The Habitation of Dragons 1992 Mr. Charlie Television film
Crossroads 1992 Oscar Poland Episode: "Pilot"
Murder in the Heartland 1993 Gus Meyer Mini-series
The American Clock 1993 Old Wayne Taylor Television film
Chicago Hope 1997 William Kronk Episode: "Hope Against Hope"
Balloon Farm 1999 'Weasel' Mayfield Television film, (final film role)

Theater credits[edit]


  • J O & Y Bookies (2001).[15]
  • Poetic Philosophy in the 21st Century (2002).[16]
  • River of Wine (2002).[17]
  • How It Is We (2002).[18]


  1. ^ "Archive for Ezra Cobb". Cinema Knife Fright. Retrieved 13 September 2011.
  2. ^ a b Lentz, Harris M. III (2012). Obituaries in the Performing Arts, 2011. McFarland. p. 35. ISBN 978-0-786-49134-6.
  3. ^ a b c Caltrider, Mac (December 25, 2020). "THE MYSTERIOUS LIFE OF THE SOLDIER-TURNED-ACTOR WHO PLAYED OLD MAN MARLEY IN 'HOME ALONE'". Retrieved March 20, 2021.
  4. ^ a b Segall, Grant (July 11, 2011)"Roberts Scott Blossom was featured in "Home Alone," on "Another World" and more: news obituary". Retrieved 13 September 2011.
  5. ^ a b Grimes, William (July 12, 2011)Grimes, William (12 July 2011). "Roberts Blossom, Quirky Character Actor, Dies at 87". The New York Times. Retrieved 13 September 2011.
  6. ^ Dye, Kerry Douglas"Guy Movie of the Week, 9/13/99: Escape from Alcatraz". Archived from the original on 26 July 2010. Retrieved 22 September 2011.
  7. ^ "Full Blossom Trailer". Youtube. 26 November 2011. Retrieved 13 September 2011.
  8. ^ Dunning, Jennifer (3 November 2014). "Beverly Blossom, Solo Dancer With a 'Voice,' Dies at 88". New York Times. Retrieved 6 June 2018.
  9. ^ Marks, Scott (14 July 2011). "Dig A Hole: Deranged Character Actor Roberts Blossom". San Diego Reader. Retrieved 6 June 2018.
  10. ^ DelVecchio, Rick (April 12, 2003)DelVecchio, Rick (24 June 2011). "Home alone, with his words / Retired actor Roberts Blossom now devotes his time to poetry". Retrieved 13 September 2011.
  11. ^ Eames, Tom (July 13, 2011)"'Home Alone' actor Roberts Blossom dies, aged 87". Digital Spy. Retrieved 13 September 2011.
  12. ^ "Status Quo Vadis". Retrieved April 8, 2022.
  13. ^ "The Cherry Orchard 1988". Retrieved April 8, 2022.
  14. ^ "THE BALD SOPRANO AND THE CHAIRS". americanrepertorytheater. November 24, 1989. Retrieved April 8, 2022.
  15. ^ Blossom, Roberts (2001). J O and Y: Bookies. Regent Press. p. 116. ISBN 9781587900334. Retrieved March 20, 2021.
  16. ^ Blossom, Roberts (2002). Poetic Philosophy in the 21st Century. Regent Press. p. 17. ISBN 9781587900235. Retrieved March 20, 2021.
  17. ^ Blossom, Roberts (2002). River of Wine. Regent Press. ISBN 9781587900242. Retrieved March 20, 2021.
  18. ^ Blossom, Roberts (2002). How It Is We. Regent Press. p. 62. ISBN 9781587900259. Retrieved March 20, 2021.

External links[edit]