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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.[1]

Career

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. [1976]. Robby Benson received critical acclaim for his role as the hockey player, Nick Peterson, in Ice Castles (1978).

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.

Personal life

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.[2] 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.

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