Untimely Passing - Robert Cushman
If you have ever have visited the Margaret Herrick Library to do any research and your research included a look at any of the gazzillions of photo files in the collection of the Herrick, you owe a fervent and silent thank you to a gentleman and gentle man who passed away a few days ago, Robert Cushman. Cushman was the curator of the Roddy McDowall Photograph Archive housed at the Margaret Herrick Library in The Fairbanks Center for Motion Picture Research on La Cienega Blvd.
I learned this incredibly sad news a few days ago and this news that affects me very deeply. As many may or may not know I am reaching the conclusion of my project, Rudolph Valentino The Silent Idol, His Life and Films in Photographs. I could not, nor today can I comprehend that my finished project will not be seen and critiqued by this man. His unerring eye, his experience, what a loss.
Robert was a generous man with his time and his expertise. His work at the Herrick enriched the collection by leaps and bounds. His work on the massive Fairbanks collection, incredible. He was a huge fan and expert on the work of Mary Pickford. There is his book on Mary Pickford a collaboration with Kevin Brownlow, Mary Pickford Rediscovered. It is a stunningly gorgeous book and remains a book that is a standard by which I judge all photo books on Hollywood. He set a pretty high bar.
I was not a close personal friend of Robert's and the afternoon I spent in the back at his cubicle looking at original photos with him will remain a treasured memory. His work touched my life and I am grateful to have crossed paths in this small way. Anyone who does research at the Herrick owes him a thank you and I can only hope the future generations who will conduct research will know they have Robert to thank.
I have no doubt his colleagues will miss him greatly and I mourn their loss and send my condolences. I cannot imagine who can replace him. I think it is a testament to his greatness as an archivist and curator that the Academy will have a very tough time finding one so qualified. None will know the collection as Robert did.
Farewell Robert, you've gone too soon. I'm so glad you were here and I got to say hello, even for so brief a time.
Apologies to Jeffrey and Tony for cropping you out of this photo, nothing personal.