Robby Benson

For the Irish footballer, see Robbie Benson.
Robby Benson

Benson in 1980.
Born Robin David Segal
(1956-01-21) January 21, 1956
Dallas, Texas, U.S.
Occupation Actor, director, singer, educator
Years active 1965–2011
Notable work Voice of The Beast/Prince Adam in Disney's Beauty and the Beast (1991)
Spouse(s) Karla DeVito (m. 1982)
Children Lyric Benson (b. 1983)
Zephyr Benson (b. 1992)
Parent(s) Jerry Segal (father)
Freda Ann Benson (mother)

Robin David Segal (born January 21, 1956), better known by the stage name Robby Benson, is an American actor, director, singer, and teacher. He is known as the voice of The Beast from the Disney animated film, Beauty and the Beast.

Early life

Benson was born in Dallas, Texas, the son of Freda Ann (née Benson), a singer, actor, and business promotions manager, and Jerry Segal, a writer.[1] His family is Jewish.[2][3] Benson was raised in New York City and took his mother's maiden name as his stage name when he was 10.[3][4]


Benson made his film debut with an uncredited role in Wait Until Dark (1967) as the Boy Tossing Ball[5] and his Broadway debut in The Rothschilds (1970). Benson had an early role on the daytime soap Search for Tomorrow (1971–72). As a film actor, Benson was well known for teenage roles in coming-of-age films, such as 1972's Jory, 1973's Jeremy, and as Billy Joe McAllister in 1976's Ode to Billy Joe.

In 1975, Benson appeared in Death Be Not Proud and Lucky Lady. In 1977, he starred in One on One (which he co-wrote with his father) and the TV movie The Death of Richie. In 1978, he co-starred in The End and also Ice Castles, co-starring Lynn Holly Johnson, who was a U.S. national figure skating medalist. Benson, who had never ice skated before, learned to skate in order to film the movie, which had numerous skating scenes, including ice hockey.[6] In 1980, Benson starred opposite Linda Grovenor in the Orion film, Die Laughing. The same year, Benson also starred in the movie Tribute opposite Jack Lemmon.[7]

In 1981, he costarred in the film The Chosen, based on the book of the same name by Chaim Potok.[6] The New York Times gave the film a mixed review, but noted that Benson's character was "full of a gentle inquisitiveness that cannot help but win the audience's sympathy."[8][9] Benson played Olympic 10,000-meter gold medalist Billy Mills in the 1983 film Running Brave. In 1991, he starred as the voice of Beast in the acclaimed animated Disney film Beauty and the Beast.

His 2007 novel Who Stole the Funny?: A Novel of Hollywood[10] landed Benson on the LA TImes Bestseller list. Benson's medical memoir, "I'm Not Dead... Yet!", was released in June 2012.[11]

Benson has been a professor at New York University's Tisch School of the Arts, the University of Utah and the University of South Carolina.[12] It was announced he would serve as a professor of Practice in the fall of 2013 at Indiana University.[13]

Personal life

Benson married singer and actress Karla DeVito on July 11, 1982.[14] They have two children together, daughter Lyric (b. 1983) and son Zephyr (b. 1992).[15]

He is an activist and fundraiser for heart research, which, in 2004, led him to write the book, lyrics and music for an original Off-Broadway play called Open Heart, in which he also starred.[16] He practices Transcendental Meditation.[17]


  1. "Robby Benson Biography (1956-)".
  2. Gordon, Buzz (July 4, 2003). "Pulling Up Stakes". The Jewish Journal of Greater Los Angeles. Retrieved 2006-12-13.
  3. 1 2 Roston, Tom (October 12, 2008). "Robby Benson directs 'Billy: The Early Years'". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved 2009-06-17.
  4. Maslin, Janet (August 19, 1977). "One-on-one Star And Writer Robby Benson Elated By Role...". St. Petersburg Times. pp. 14D. Retrieved 2009-06-17.
  5. "Wait Until Dark". RareFilmFinder. Retrieved 2011-05-30.
  6. 1 2 Benson, Robby. I'm Not Dead Yet!, Begal Productions ebook (2012)
  7. Tribute (1980 film)
  8. Maslin, Janet (April 30, 1982). "Movie review: 'The Chosen'". The New York Times. Retrieved 2011-10-18.
  9. Bloom, Harold, ed. Chaim Potok's "The Chosen", Chelsea House (2005) p. 15
  10. Who Stole the Funny?: A Novel of Hollywood, HarperCollins Publishers, 2007. ISBN 0-06-124500-3.
  11. Links to get "I’m Not Dead… Yet!" in all ebook formats and paperback on the Official Robby Benson site.
  12. "Teaching credits". Robby Benson's official website. Bengal Productions, Inc. Retrieved 2013-03-25.
  13. "Actor and director Robby Benson to join Indiana University's telecommunications faculty". Indiana University. Retrieved 2013-03-25.
  14. Mackay, Kathy (October 11, 1982). "Gilbert and Sullivan's Most Improbable Pair? Robby Benson and Rocker Karla DeVito". People.
  15. Roston, Tom (October 12, 2008). "The odd career twist of a former screen heartthrob". The Los Angeles Times.
  16. Genzlinger, Neil (March 23, 2004). "Theater in Review: Words Can Never Harm Him, But Cardiac Arrest Can". The New York Times. Retrieved 2011-10-18.
  17. I'm Not Dead Yet—or, "The Corpse Moved", 2012, ISBN 978-0-9831416-2-4
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