Thursday, December 04, 2008


Paul Benedict (1938-2008)

Paul Benedict, the British (EDITOR'S NOTE: This was my mistake, a rather common one, corrected in the comments) actor who has died at the age of 70, probably always will be best known as Harry Bentley, the U.N. diplomat who became neighbor to the Jeffersons once they moved on up.

However, Benedict's long career spanned TV, stage and screen. I was fortunate enough to see him play the hotel night clerk opposite Al Pacino in the 1996 Broadway revival of Eugene O'Neill's one-act play Hughie.

Still, for me at least, I think my favorite performance of Benedict's was that Professor Fleeber, Matthew Broderick's pompous NYU film professor starstruck by Marlon Brando's Don Corleone doppleganger in The Freshman.

RIP Mr. Benedict.

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I don't think Benedict was British--I think people just assumed he was because of the Bentley character.

My favorite Benedict performance matches yours, but I also enjoyed him in the little-seen Cold Turkey (1971) as the Zen Buddhist trying to wean people off smoking. Oh, and the Sesame Street painter (which is why my obit is titled "I'm going to paint a seven").

Hope you're feeling better and better, Ed.
You are correct, Ivan. This is from the L.A. Times obit:

The accented speech that he used even offstage led many to assume that Benedict was British, but in fact he was born Sept. 17, 1938, in Silver City, N.M.
Just watched Jeremiah Johnson tonight, and Benedict played a Reverend who helps guilt Johnson into passing through "sacred" Indian burial grounds. A Reverend with a runny nose
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