Professor of Practice,
Dept. of Telecommunications
Radio-TV Center, Room 319
robenson 'at' indiana.edu
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! (available in print but also as a multi-touch and interactive book on a tablet) 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. Robby Benson was teaching at NYU as he was offered and accepted an appointment by Dean Mary Schmidt Campbell, Tisch School of the Arts, as a Visiting Associate Arts Professor full-time faculty for the 2006-2007 academic year. He began his teaching career at the University of South Carolina as visiting professor for the 1988-89 and 1989-90 school years, relocating from Los Angeles to Columbia, SC. He taught MFA students in Theatre, Screenwriting and Filmmaking. He shot his film MODERN LOVE (Sony/SVS 1990) in Columbia, during the school year and twelve of his students were cast and given the opportunity to join the Screen Actors Guild and one student received an apprenticeship in the Directors Guild of America. All of his students apprenticed professionals in every department of the feature film financed by Sony.
Upon returning to LA, George Schaeffer, the head of UCLA's Film and Theatre Department, called upon Robby to teach in the graduate studies program in 1991. In 1993 President Art Smith offered Robby a full professorship at the University of Utah, and Robby was affiliated with the U of U for 9 years. He has given seminars at the University of Nebraska, and at the request of Chancellor Frank Borkowski, Robby visited Appalachian State University in the fall of 2002, teaching workshops and giving lectures. Robby was called upon by Fran Bennett to teach MFA courses at Cal Arts beginning in January of 2003. He taught at Appalachian State University in the fall of 2003, prior to leaving to star in his musical Open Heart, which had its world premiere at The Cherry Lane Theatre in March of 2004.
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.