Richard Benjamin


Actor, Director
Richard Benjamin

About

Birth Place
New York City, New York, USA
Born
May 22, 1938

Biography

Best known for his characterizations of two Philip Roth characters, in "Goodbye Columbus" (1969) and "Portnoy's Complaint" (1972), Benjamin had walk-on juvenile parts in some 1950s films and first earned adult recognition on Broadway, starring in Neil Simon's "Star-Spangled Girl" (1966). He had directed "Barefoot in the Park" in London the previous year. Other off-beat acting highlights ...

Family & Companions

Paula Prentiss
Wife
Actor. Italian-American Texan; co-star of TV series, "He and She"; married on October 26, 1961 in NYC.

Notes

"Said critic Andrew Sarris, 'Mr. Benjamin is so ideally cast as Philip Roth [in "Goodbye, Columbus"] that it is almost frightening to think of his ever playing anything else. ... Whereas Dustin Hoffman is what clumsy intellectuals would like to be on a blind date, Richard Benjamin [alas!] is what they actually are.'" --From Premiere, November 1990.

Biography

Best known for his characterizations of two Philip Roth characters, in "Goodbye Columbus" (1969) and "Portnoy's Complaint" (1972), Benjamin had walk-on juvenile parts in some 1950s films and first earned adult recognition on Broadway, starring in Neil Simon's "Star-Spangled Girl" (1966). He had directed "Barefoot in the Park" in London the previous year. Other off-beat acting highlights include "Catch-22" (1970) and "The Sunshine Boys" (1975).

Benjamin made a promising directorial debut with "My Favorite Year" (1982), a comic look at the early days of TV featuring a glorious performance by Peter O'Toole. However his subsequent directorial efforts have not been comparable commercially or critically. A conventional storyteller, Benjamin has worked with a wide assortment of actors in several genres. His second film, "Racing With the Moon" (1984), was a war romance starring Sean Penn and Elizabeth McGovern. Benjamin followed up with a pair of undistinguished comedies: "City Heat" (1984), a period detective comedy starring Burt Reynolds and a surprisingly funny Clint Eastwood and "The Money Pit" (1986), featuring Tom Hanks, Shelly Long, and a collapsing house in a Steven Spielberg-produced comedy which confused laughs with special effects. Benjamin's spy drama, "Little Nikita" (1988), offered the intriguing pairing of Sidney Poitier and River Phoenix, but audiences steered clear. Benjamin also tried his hand at high-concept comedy with "My Stepmother Is an Alien" (1988) with Dan Aykroyd and Kim Basinger and moved on to an action comedy, "Downtown" (1990), with Anthony Edwards and Forest Whitaker. Benjamin regained some degree of critical success that same year with "Mermaids," a touching mother-daughter comedy starring Cher, Winona Ryder, and Bob Hoskins. After a hiatus, he directed Whoopi Goldberg and Ted Danson in the romantic comedy, "Made in America" (1993) and helmed the pallid "Mrs. Winterbourne" (1996), which starred Ricki Lake and Shirley MacLaine.

Filmography

 

Director (Feature Film)

A Little Thing Called Murder (2006)
Director
Neil Simon's The Goodbye Girl (2004)
Director
Marci X (2003)
Director
Laughter on the 23rd Floor (2001)
Director
The Sports Pages (2001)
Director
Tourist Trap (1998)
Director
The Pentagon Wars (1998)
Director
Mrs. Winterbourne (1996)
Director
Milk Money (1994)
Director
Made In America (1993)
Director
Downtown (1990)
Director
Mermaids (1990)
Director
Little Nikita (1988)
Director
My Stepmother Is an Alien (1988)
Director
The Money Pit (1986)
Director
City Heat (1984)
Director
Racing With The Moon (1984)
Director
My Favorite Year (1982)
Director

Cast (Feature Film)

Henry Poole Is Here (2008)
Keeping Up With The Steins (2006)
Neil Simon's The Goodbye Girl (2004)
Oliver Frey
Marci X (2003)
Ben Feld--Marci'S Father
The Pentagon Wars (1998)
Deconstructing Harry (1997)
Lift (1991)
Packin' It In (1983)
Saturday the 14th (1981)
How to Beat the High Cost of Living (1980)
First Family (1980)
The Last Married Couple In America (1979)
Scavenger Hunt (1979)
Love At First Bite (1979)
House Calls (1978)
Dr Norman Solomon
Fame (1978)
Meyer Shine
Witches' Brew (1978)
Joshua Lightman
The Sunshine Boys (1975)
Westworld (1973)
The Last Of Sheila (1973)
Tom
Portnoy's Complaint (1972)
Alexander Portnoy
The Steagle (1971)
Harold Weiss, B.A., M.A., Ph.D.
The Marriage of a Young Stockbroker (1971)
William Alren
Diary of a Mad Housewife (1970)
Jonathan Balser
Catch-22 (1970)
Major Danby
Goodbye, Columbus (1969)
Neil
Crime Wave (1954)
Mark
Riding Shotgun (1954)
Blackie
Thunder Over the Plains (1953)
Sgt. Shaw
House of Wax (1953)
Detective
Springfield Rifle (1952)
Lt. Johnson

Producer (Feature Film)

Neil Simon's The Goodbye Girl (2004)
Producer

Director (Special)

Where's Poppa? (1979)
Director

Cast (Special)

Canned Ham: Deconstructing Harry (1997)
The American Film Institute Salute to Frank Capra (1982)
Performer
The Way They Were (1981)
Battle of the Network Stars IV (1978)
Nbc Team Captain
A Last Laugh at the 60's (1970)

Cast (Short)

The Lion Roars Again (1975)
Himself
On Location with Westworld (1973)
Himself

Director (TV Mini-Series)

The Shrink Is In (2001)
Director

Life Events

1964

Starred in national tour of "Barefoot in the Park"

1965

Directed first major stage production, "Barefoot in the Park" (London)

1966

Broadway debut as star of Neil Simon's "Star-Spangled Girl"

1967

First regular role in TV series, as Dick Hollister in "He and She" (CBS), with wife Paula Prentiss

1969

Adult screen acting debut, "Goodbye, Columbus", adapted from the novel by Philip Roth; had starring role

1970

First screen pairing with wife Paula Prentiss, "Catch-22"

1971

Starred in "The Marriage of a a Young Stockbroker", opposite Prentiss

1972

Played leading role in second Philip Roth film adaptation "Portnoy's Complaint"

1975

Played the agent-nephew of a vaudevillian (Walter Matthau) in "The Sunshine Boys"

1978

Co-starred in "House Calls"

1981

Had last feature acting role for over 15 years in; the horror spoof "Saturday the 14th"; also featured Prentiss

1982

Feature directing debut, "My Favorite Year"

1984

Helmed the coming of age tale "Racing with the Moon"

1986

Had a directorial misfire with "The Money Pit"

1988

Directed the intriguing spy thriller "Little Nikita"

1990

Helmed "Mermaids", starring Cher

1993

Paired Whoppi Goldberg and Ted Danson in the mildly comedic "Made in America"

1997

Returned to film acting in a small role in Woody Allen's "Deconstructing Harry"

1998

With wife Paula Prentiss, returned to stage acting in the off-Broadway comedy "Power Plays"

2003

Directed and starred in "Marci X" with Lisa Kudrow

2004

Directed the TV remake of Neil Simon's "The Goodbye Girl" starring Jeff Daniels and Patricia Heaton

2006

Cast a the Rabbi opposite Jeremy Piven and Garry Marshall in the indie comedy "Keeping Up with the Steins" directed by Marshall's son Scott

Photo Collections

Westworld - Movie Poster Art
Here is the original art used for the main ad campaign for MGM's Westworld (1973), starring Yul Brynner, Richard Benjamin, and James Brolin.

Videos

Movie Clip

My Favorite Year - Open, 1954 Opening titles with Nat Cole singing "Stardust," and narration by Mark Linn-Baker as "Benji Stone," setting up the director Richard Benjamin's "Peter O'Toole as Errol Flynn" comedy My Favorite Year, 1982, executive producer Mel Brooks.
My Favorite Year (1982) - Clarence Duffy An interlude in Central Park, TV writer Benji (Mark Linn-Baker) shares secrets with errant movie star Alan Swann (Peter O'Toole) whom he's minding, in Richard Benjamin's My Favorite Year, 1982.
My Favorite Year (1982) - If I Were Truly Plastered Inebriated guest Alan Swan (Peter O'Toole) arrives as TV star King Kaiser (Joseph Bologna) and staff are sampling clips of his old movies, writer Benji (Mark Linn-Baker) mediating, in Richard Benjamin's My Favorite Year, 1982.
My Favorite Year (1982) - They Married Me Dissolute movie star Alan Swann (Peter O'Toole) with his TV variety-show minder Benji (Mark Linn-Baker) at The Stork Club, makes nice with a fan and contrives to escape with a dishy spectator, in My Favorite Year, 1982.
First Family (1980) - Can I Deny Something? A forerunner of the walk-and-talk scenes known from The West Wing and other TV shows, Bob Newhart the president, Madeline Kahn the first lady, Fred Willard the aide Feebleman, Richard Benjamin the press secretary, Gilda Radner the daughter attempting another escape, in writer-director Buck Henry’s First Family, 1980.
Sunshine Boys, The (1975) - Eleven Thousand Times Ben (Richard Benjamin) discovers that his uncle's old partner Al Lewis (George Burns) will also be a handfull, as he tries to negotiate their reunion appearance in Neil Simon's The Sunshine Boys, 1975.
Sunshine Boys, The (1975) - Amanda And Sipke We're just meeting Walter Matthau as vaudeville veteran Willy Clark, alone in his apartment and visited by nephew and agent Ben (Richard Benjamin) who wants him to do a show with his old partner (George Burns), in Neil Simon's The Sunshine Boys, 1975.
Westworld (1973) - Orientation Credit sequence, conversation and the opening "orientation" scene for high-tech tourists Martin (Richard Benjamin) and Blane (James Brolin) in Michael Crichton's Westworld, 1973.
My Favorite Year - Since The World Was Young Rehearsing for the TV show, and a momentary reconciliation between the star "King" (Joseph Bologna) and guest star Alan Swann (Peter O'Toole), from Richard Benjamin's My Favorite Year, 1982.
Westworld (1973) - Sloppy With Your Drink Martin (Richard Benjamin) and Blane (James Brolin) get their first action-thrill at the futuristic amusement park versus the robot gunslinger (Yul Brynner) in Michael Crichton's Westworld, 1973.
Westworld (1973) - I'm Shot! Blane (James Brolin) and Martin (Richard Benjamin) are coming off a Western all-nighter when the robot gunslinger (Yul Brynner) interrupts their fantasy vacation, again, in Westworld, 1973.

Trailer

Family

Ross Thomas Benjamin
Son
Born 1974; mother Paula Prentiss.
Prentiss Benjamin
Daughter
Ballerina. Mother Paula Prentiss; born c. 1978.

Companions

Paula Prentiss
Wife
Actor. Italian-American Texan; co-star of TV series, "He and She"; married on October 26, 1961 in NYC.

Bibliography

Notes

"Said critic Andrew Sarris, 'Mr. Benjamin is so ideally cast as Philip Roth [in "Goodbye, Columbus"] that it is almost frightening to think of his ever playing anything else. ... Whereas Dustin Hoffman is what clumsy intellectuals would like to be on a blind date, Richard Benjamin [alas!] is what they actually are.'" --From Premiere, November 1990.