SILVER, RON (1946– ), U.S. actor. Born Ronald Zimelman in New York City, Silver graduated from Stuyvesant High School, a specialized school in New York for mathematics, science, and technology. He studied Spanish and Chinese at the State University of New York at Buffalo. After graduating in 1967, he considered a career in intelligence before going on to graduate studies in Spain and Taiwan in 1968. After returning to the United States, he received his master's degree in Chinese history from St. John's University in Queens in 1970. Silver struggled to find a job that appealed to him, from social work to teaching Spanish at Roosevelt High School, a Jewish boarding school in Connecticut. Silver had taken some acting classes in college, and turned to study at the Herbert Berghof Studio and then Lee Strasberg's Actors Studio. He made his stage debut in Kaspar and Public Insult at the City Center Theater in 1971. In 1972, he was a cast member in the off-Broadway farce El Grande De Coca-Cola. In 1976, Silver was cast as nebbishy neighbor Gary Levy in the sitcom Rhoda (1974–78). He made his feature film debut in Tunnelvision (1976), which he followed with an appearance in the film Semi-Tough (1977). Silver was on the short-lived series Dear Detective in 1979. He starred in his own television series, Baker's Dozen (1982), but the show was canceled despite being nominated for an Emmy. Silver continued to act in films, including Best Friends (1982), Lovesick (1983) and Silkwood (1983). Silver then turned his attention to Broadway with two Mike Nichols-directed plays, Hurlyburly (1984) and Social Security (1986). In 1988, he was cast in the Broadway production of David Mamet's Speed-the-Plow, which earned him a Tony Award and a Drama Desk Award. Silver's turn as attorney Alan Dershowitz in the film Reversal of Fortune (1990) earned him critical acclaim. From 1996 to 1997, he had a recurring role as Tommy Wilmette on Chicago Hope (1996–2000). He returned to television for the 1998–99 season of Veronica's Closet and then starred in the Muhammad Ali biopic Ali (2001). He served as president of Actors' Equity Association from 1991 to 2000, and became an outspoken supporter of President George W. Bush after the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks. He has been an outspoken supporter of Israel as well.
"Silver, Ron," in: Contemporary Theater, Film and Television, Volume 37 (Gale Group, 2002); "Silver, Ron," in: Almanac of Famous People (Gale Group, 20038).
[Adam Wills (2nd ed.)]