I hate it when an actor I’ve referenced numerous times on this blog passes away and I don’t even find out about it until many days later. However, I’m sad to report that one of my personal favourite character actors, Roberts Blossom, passed away on July 8, 2011 at the age of 87. Of course, Blossom will always be best known for his role as Old Man Marley, the seemingly scary neighbour with the snow shovel in Home Alone, but he also had a very extensive background in stage acting and poetry, and some of his other memorable supporting roles include such notable films as Close Encounters of the Third Kind (“I saw Bigfoot once! 1951! It made a sound that I would not want to hear twice in my life!”), Christine and Escape From Alcatraz.
However, Blossom’s finest work was undoubtedly his amazing turn as the Ed Gein-inspired serial killer, Ezra Cobb, in the 1974 horror film/black comedy, Deranged, which I covered in one of my “Robin’s Underrated Gems” columns. This film made the very daring choice to tell its entire story from the point-of-view of its deranged protagonist, but because Blossom played him as such a childlike innocent, he somehow managed to make Ezra Cobb into strangely likable character, even in scenes where he’s digging up his mother’s rotting corpse and holding conversations with her. I’d even go so far as to say this would be considered an Oscar nomination-worthy performance if the Academy ever paid any attention to sleazy low-budget grindhouse films. R.I.P. Roberts, you will be missed.