The thing about Ron, the overwhelming thing, was the energy. I have never known anyone who could match Ron's energy. I never argued with him--I really only argue for money on TV--because I knew he could knock me over with the force of his energy before mounting his attack on my logic. I'll miss the energy almost as much as his artistry.
I used Ron when I met him. He was in the middle of his Tony Award winning run in Speed The Plow. He was at the best table at Orso, and I was at the second best. He smiled, got up and approached. I knew why. My table mates were my boss, Senator Daniel Patrick Moynihan, and his wife Liz. Ron got to meet the senator and I got to hit Ron up for tickets to the hottest show in town. Little did I know that twenty years of friendship with a great pal and an astonishing actor were to follow.
I'm one of the lucky ones who got to work with Ron. The West Wing was the perfect place for us to join forces professionally--a political operative got to write a political show and a political activist got to play a political operative. He had a great run of episodes, including an Emmy nomination, leading up to President Bartlet's reelection. Then there wasn't anything for his campaign consultant character to do for a few years of the show. I was always looking for ways to bring Ron back, mostly because I just missed him and knew we would have a great time together on the set. When we started the final presidential campaign of the series, I wrote Ron back into the show and had him change parties--no stretch there--so he could work with Alan Alda. Between takes, Ron poured his energy into laughing with Alan, and when action was called watching those two masters work was thrilling.
In the last two difficult years of his life, the energy was still there even as the voice was getting weaker. When I joined him as a guest on his radio show, I marveled at his strength, his bravery, his nobility in the face of an enemy that was trying to take away his energy. I wouldn't attempt to host a radio show if I had a headache and here Ron was doing it with cancer and an attitude that very clearly said, yeah, cancer, so what? Every time I saw him in the last two years, I thought it might be the last time, but we always had a plan to see each other again--see you at the White House Correspondents Dinner, see you in Denver, see you--and he always showed up. And, as Alan Alda told me on Sunday, he stayed funny til the end.
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