|Robby Benson (born Robin
David Segal on January 21, 1956) is an American film and television
actor, television director and educator.
Benson was born in Dallas to Jewish parents, Gerald Charles Segal and
Freda Ann Benson. His sister is Shelli Segal, designer for the
clothing line known as Laundry by Shelli Segal.
Benson made his Broadway debut in The Rothschilds. Benson had an early
role on the daytime soap Search for Tomorrow (1971-72). As a film
star, Benson was popular for roles of teens in coming-of-age films,
such as in 1972's Jory (his screen debut), and as Billy Joe McAllister
in Ode to Billy Joe (1976).
He was listed as one of twelve "Promising New Actors of 1976" in John
Willis' Screen World, Vol. 28. . Robby Benson received critical
acclaim for his role as the hockey player, Nick Peterson, in Ice
Other notable performances include Death Be Not Proud and Lucky Lady,
both in 1975, and One on One co-starring Annette O'Toole in 1977. Also
in 1977 came the TV movie The Death of Richie, co-starring actor Ben
Gazzara. He played the romantic lead in 1978's Ice Castles. In 1981,
he costarred with Rod Steiger in the film The Chosen. Also in the
early 1980s, he appeared as a young man with a learning disability in
the made-for-television film Two of a Kind, along with George Burns
playing the role of his "Grand-Poppy".
In Disney's animated feature film Beauty and the Beast, Benson
demonstrated his vocal abilities by providing the voice of Beast. Some
critics claim he did such a good job the voice was nearly
unrecognizable as Benson's. He would later reprise the role in the
Kingdom Hearts role-playing game series. This role led to other voice
work for animated features, including the widely popular Prince
Valiant cartoon series. Benson also lends his voice to some computer
and video game work, such as the voice of Prince Alexander in the
computer game King's Quest VI: Heir Today, Gone Tomorrow.
He was the voice of the 15-year old "Vincent" in the Seinfeld episode
The Comeback in 1997 as Elaine's romantic interest.
Benson directed over 100 sitcom episodes including Friends, Sabrina,
an entire season of Ellen, and two seasons of Thunder Alley.
Benson is currently a visiting professor at New York University's
Tisch School of the Arts, having previously taught at Appalachian
State University and the University of South Carolina. Benson has
been married to Karla DeVito since 1982. They have two children, a
daughter named Lyric and a son named Zephyr (his daughter, Lyric
Benson, is not the young woman of the same name who was murdered in
New York City by her boyfriend in 2003).
Benson was born with a heart defect, necessitating heart valve surgery
in October 1984, and again in 1998. He recently underwent a third
surgery. He is an activist and fundraiser for heart research, and
wrote the book, lyrics, and music for a play called Open Heart,
starring Benson and his wife Karla, which opened and closed
off-Broadway in 2004.