Robby Benson Biography
Best known for starring in films such as Ice Castles, Ode to Billy Joe, The Chosen, Tribute, Running Brave, Harry and Son, in his own screenplay for the Warner Bros. basketball classic, One on One, and to a new generation as the voice of Beast in Disney’s Beauty and the Beast, the first animated film ever to receive a Best Picture Academy Award nomination, Robby Benson is also a two time Golden Globe nominated actor whom has co-starred with legends Paul Newman, Jack Lemmon, Burt Reynolds, Gene Hackman, George Burns, Maximillan Schell, and Rod Steiger.
His four decades of show business versatility include producing and directing feature films and television series. Robby directed over 100 sitcom episodes and pilots, including episodes of Friends, and an entire season of Ellen. Most recently he helmed Billy: The Early Years (2009) casting actor Armie Hammer in his first starring role.
Benson starred on Broadway in Zelda, The Rothschilds, and the Joseph Papp production of The Pirates of Penzance, where he met and fell in love with his co-star, Karla DeVito.
Robby Benson has composed film soundtracks, and has been the recipient of several RIAA Gold Records for song writing, most notably “We Are Not Alone” for John Hughes seminal teenage film The Breakfast Club. Most recently Robby collaborated with Lyric Benson co-writing, arranging, engineering, and producing her debut album, Lyric’s Love Light Revolution (2012).
For the theatre, Mr. Benson wrote the libretto and score of his musical Open Heart, which debuted in New York at the historic Cherry Lane Theatre, and is published and licensed by Samuel French (2006).
Robby Benson added author to his career accomplishments with the release of his first book, Who Stole the Funny? A Novel of Hollywood, published by HarperCollins (2007) and praised by the Editor in Chief of Variety Peter Bart as “an irreverent and hilarious stroll down the dark alleys of Hollywood’s TV landscape.” Who Stole the Funny? made The Los Angeles Times bestsellers list (2007).
Robby Benson’s new medical memoir I’m Not Dead…Yet! is a funny, explicit look at surviving four open heart surgeries for a congenital valve defect while continuing a dynamic creative career in and out of Hollywood. Benson’s goal is to help open heart patients and their loved ones get through surgery and recovery with knowledge and humor. I’m Not Dead… Yet! was originally conceived by Benson for the iPad as a cutting edge use of technology to create a multi-media experience for the reader. The ‘flagship’ iPad version includes 20 songs, 4 career film clips, 5 calming slide shows of his photography scored by Benson, and preface and epilogue read by the author. The Standard version of I’m Not Dead… Yet! will be available in print and all formats on August 7, 2012.
Robby Benson is an advocate for heart research funding. He has spoken on behalf of the National Institutes of Health before the Senate Appropriations Committee in Washington, DC. Representing the American Heart Association, along with Surgeon General C. Everett Koop and Senator Ted Kennedy, Robby spoke on behalf of the groundbreaking Kennedy/Hatch bill to ban the promotion of cigarettes to minors and prevent tobacco companies from advertising sporting events.
His most valued professional accomplishment is that of College Professor, teaching for two decades at universities around the country. As Professor of Film at NYU’s famed Tisch School of the Arts in the Maurice Kanbar Institute of Film and Television, Robby Benson received the honor of being nominated for both New York University’s Distinguished Teaching Award in 2006, and the David Payne-Carter Award for Teaching Excellence in 2010.
Robby Benson and Karla DeVito have been happily married for 30 years and have a two children. Lyric attended NYU as a filmmaker, but graduated magna cum laude in Vedic Science from Maharishi University in 2006. She is a poet, writer, and singer-songwriter, currently on pilgrimage to Mt. Kailash, Tibet. Zephyr joined the freshman class at NYU in the fall of 2010. Finishing his first powerful screenplay at 19, he is traversing the long and winding road to his own multi-hyphenate career.