Robby Benson (born January 21, 1956) is an American film and television actor, television director, educator and singer.
Benson was born Robin David Segal in Dallas, Texas, the son of Freda Ann (née Benson), a singer, actress, and business promotions manager, and Jerry Segal, a writer. His family is Jewish. Benson was raised in New York City and took his mother's maiden name as his stage name when he was 10.
Benson made his film debut with an uncredited role in Wait Until Dark (1967) as the "Boy Tossing Ball" 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.
He was listed as one of 12 "Promising New Actors of 1976" in John Willis' Screen World, Vol. 28. (1976) and auditioned for the role of Luke Skywalker in Star Wars (1977) but lost the role to Mark Hamill. He received critical acclaim for his role as hockey player Nick Peterson in Ice Castles (1978). In Walk Proud (1979), he played a Chicano gang member.
In 1975, Benson appeared in Death Be Not Proud and Lucky Lady. In 1977, he starred in One on One and the TV movie The Death of Richie. In 1978, he co-starred in The End. In 1981, he costarred in the film The Chosen, based on the book of the same name by Chaim Potok. The New York Times gave the film a mixed review, but noted: "Robby Benson, who might not be expected to be the quiet surprise of a movie like this one, nevertheless makes a fine impression as Danny. He is eager without being overeager, and full of a gentle inquisitiveness that can't help but win the audience's sympathy." 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. In 1983, he portrayed distance runner Billy Mills in Running Brave. In 1984, he co-starred in Harry & Son. In 1986, he played Detective Cliff Brady in the short-lived television series Tough Cookies. In 1990, Benson directed, wrote, produced and starred in the film 'Modern Love'.
Benson was the voice of the Beast in the Disney animated feature film Beauty and the Beast. He reprised the role in the Kingdom Hearts video game series. This role led to other voice work for animated features, including the Prince Valiant cartoon series The Legend of Prince Valiant and Exosquad (as the heroic Able Squad leader J.T. Marsh). Benson was also the voice of Prince Alexander in the computer game King's Quest VI: Heir Today, Gone Tomorrow.
In 2000, Benson was the voice of Drake in Dragonheart: A New Beginning.
Benson directed over 100 sitcom episodes including Friends, Sabrina, an entire season of Ellen and two seasons of Thunder Alley.
Benson authored the 2007 novel Who Stole the Funny?: A Novel of Hollywood.
Benson's medical memoir, "I'm Not Dead... Yet!", was released in June 2012.
Benson has been married to singer and actress Karla DeVito since 1982. They have two children, daughter Lyric and son Zephyr.
Benson has been a visiting professor at New York University's Tisch School of the Arts, Appalachian State University, the University of Utah and the University of South Carolina.
Benson was born with a heart defect which necessitated heart valve surgery in 1984 and 1998. 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.