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by Abigail Van Buren

Actor's Screen Image Belied His Gentle Nature

DEAR ABBY: I'm writing in response to the letters about Edward G. Robinson.

In 1943, when I was in the service, I hitchhiked from the San Francisco/Oakland area to Los Angeles because I wanted to visit Los Angeles during my nine-day leave before going overseas.

A big black car pulled over to give me a lift -- and who should be driving but Edward G. Robinson! I was placed in the backseat between two Doberman pinschers. Believe me, if I made the slightest move those dogs' ears went up! It was one scary ride.

I was relieved to get out from between those two huge dogs when we stopped for gas in Bakersfield. Mr. Robinson then treated me to a delicious steak dinner at The Inn.

His kindness that night will never be forgotten -- as well as his ease in the conversation we shared. Hope you have room to print this, Abby. -- CHARLES (CHUCK) O'NEIL, SACRAMENTO

DEAR CHUCK: If my mail is any indication, Edward G. Robinson certainly got around! Read on:

DEAR ABBY: It was the fall of 1968, and I was a young, newly hired cabin attendant for the now defunct TransWorld Airlines.

On one memorable flight, I had the pleasure of attending to Mr. Robinson in the first-class cabin. He was a warm and friendly man -- and completely unassuming.

A friend of mine who idolized him was going to pick me up when we landed in New York. I asked Mr. Robinson if he would mind signing an autograph for my friend, and he came back with, "Better yet -- let's really surprise him!"

Edward G. and I walked arm-in-arm off the plane and strode up to my friend, who was standing there absolutely speechless with his mouth open. Mr. Robinson greeted him by tipping his hat and saying, "How do you do? I am Edward G. Robinson."

For having played some "heavies" on screen, he truly was a gentle human being. -- JUDY OTRANDO-SEGAL, CALABASAS, CALIF.

DEAR JUDY: It appears he also had a sense of humor. You're not the only reader who had an airplane encounter with him. Arlene Linke, of Ridley Park, Pa., wrote to say that in 1949 her pregnant mother boarded a plane that had been oversold only to find no seats were available. Only one gentleman was willing to give up his seat for her. You guessed it -- it was Edward G. Robinson.

DEAR ABBY: Although Mr. Robinson played, as you said, "heavies" on screen, he also spent years on the stage -- beginning with the Garrick Theater in New York during the 1920s.

In 1951, he returned to the stage in a starring role in "Darkness at Noon." I was fortunate to see the play when it came to San Francisco. He was superb.

I also saw most of his movies. He was a great actor. Mr. Robinson's autobiography, "All My Yesterdays," is one of the best books by an actor I've ever read.

Here in San Francisco a few years ago, a tribute to Edward G. Robinson was held at Herbst International Exhibition Hall, featuring excerpts from some of his films. The hall was packed. The first time he appeared on the screen, everyone in the audience stood up and applauded. He was loved by many classic movie buffs. -- PATRICIA ANDERSON, SAN FRANCISCO

DEAR PATRICIA: And he's fondly remembered by many fans -- old and new -- today.

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