Childhood & Early Life
Robert Wallace Forster Jr. was born on July 13, 1941 in Rochester, New York, to Grace Dorothy and Robert Wallace Forster, Sr. His father was an elephant trainer for Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus. He later worked in a baking supply company. Forster’s parents divorced in 1949. Robert Forster is of English, Italian and Irish descent.
He studied at Rochester's Madison High School and later attended Alfred University. Eventually, he enrolled at the University of Rochester and graduated from there with a BA degree in psychology (or history, as mentioned in a different source) in 1964.
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Robert Forster made his big screen debut in 1967, appearing as Private Williams in the film ‘Reflections in a Golden Eye’. The following year, he again gave an acclaimed performance in Robert Mulligan's Western film ‘The Stalking Moon’.
He then starred in the critically acclaimed flick ‘Medium Cool,’ which was released in 1969. The movie was later named one of the greatest movies of that year. Two years later, he began playing Miles Banyon in the detective series ‘Banyon’. He followed it up with the role of Deputy Nakia Parker in the dramatic TV series ‘Nakia’.
From 1975 to 1977, the actor played various roles in ‘Police Story,’ an anthology crime drama series that was created by former police officer Joseph Wambaugh. Forster starred as Captain Dan Holland in Disney’s space opera film ‘The Black Hole’ in 1979.
He appeared as David Madison in ‘Alligator,’ a 1980 horror film that follows a police official and a reptile expert who track a huge murderous sewer alligator that had been flushed down the toilet several years before. The reptile attacks the residents of the city after escaping from the sewers.
The American actor appeared in two episodes of ‘Magnum, P.I.’ in 1985. After this, he played Abdul Rafai in the film ‘The Delta Force’ (1986) alongside Chuck Norris, Lee Marvin, Martin Balsam, Robert Vaughn, Joey Bishop, Steve James, Shelley Winters, and George Kennedy.
In 1987 and 1988, Forster had roles in the dramas ‘Once a Hero’ and ‘William Tell’. In the ensuing decade, he made guest appearances in a number of TV series, including ‘Walker, Texas Ranger’, ‘Murder, She Wrote’ and ‘One West Waikiki’.
He featured as Colonel Parington in the dark comedy flick ‘Me, Myself & Irene’ which released in 2000. That year, he also starred in ‘Diamond Men’, an independent film directed by Dan Cohen which premiered at the Hamptons International Film Festival.
The actor appeared in ‘Like Mike,’ playing Coach Wagner. This comedy film is a story of an orphan who becomes passionate about basketball after finding a pair of Michael Jordan's shoes. Produced by NBA Productions, the film features guest appearances by NBA players.
In 2003, Forster started playing Marshall Cisco in the crime drama ‘Karen Sisco’. In the ensuing years, he guest-starred in the dramas ‘The Grid’, ‘Huff’ and ‘Tilt,’ and also had a role in the biographical horror movie ‘The Hunt for the BTK Killer’.
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He was featured in the crime thriller films ‘Firewall’ and ‘Lucky Number Slevin’ in 2006. In 2011, he appeared as Scott Thorson in ‘The Descendants.’ The actor’s performance in the comedy drama film earned him multiple nominations including a Screen Actors Guild Award nomination and a Gotham Award nomination.
In the year 2012, Forster joined the cast of the drama series ‘Last Man Standing’ as Bud Baxter. A year later, he made a guest appearance as Ed in ‘Breaking Bad’ and earned a Saturn Award for Best Guest Starring Role on Television. That year, he also had a role in the action thriller ‘Olympus Has Fallen’.
In 2014 and 2015, he voiced Jack J. Kurtzman in the animated series ‘Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles’. He also did the short films ‘Run Fast’, ‘The Biffle Murder Case’ and ‘The Bridge Partner’ during this time period.
The actor played General Edward Clegg in ‘London Has Fallen’ (2016), a sequel to Antoine Fuqua's 2013 movie ‘Olympus Has Fallen,’ also starring Gerard Butler, Morgan Freeman, Angela Bassett and Aaron Eckhart.
Forster was cast as Sheriff Frank Truman in Showtime’s ‘Twin Peaks’ in 2017. In 2018, he appeared in the movies ‘What They Had’ and ‘Damsel’, playing the role of Norbert Everhardt and Old Preacher, respectively.
In 1997, Robert Forster was cast as Max Cherry in Quentin Tarantino’s crime thriller ‘Jackie Brown’. An adaptation of Elmore Leonard's famous novel, ‘Rum Punch,’ the film features Pam Grier in the title role and revitalized both Grier’s and Forster’s careers. Forster earned an Academy Award nomination for Best Supporting Actor and Chicago Film Critics Association Award nomination for Best Supporting Actor for his performance.
In 2007 and 2008, the actor played the role of Arthur Petrelli in the sci-fi TV series ‘Heroes’. The series told the stories of common people who discover that they have heroic abilities and how these abilities affect the characters' lives as they strive together to prevent future catastrophes. Forster’s performance in the drama series earned him a Saturn Award nomination for Best Guest Starring Role on Television.
Family & Personal Life
Robert Forster’s first marriage was with a woman named June. The couple had three children: Kathrine "Kate”, Elizabeth and Maeghen before divorcing in 1975. From 1978 to 1980, the actor was married to Zivia Forster.
He also had a son named Robert III with his ex-girlfriend Marlene.
Robert Forster died of brain cancer on October 11, 2019, at his home in Los Angeles.