Thursday, December 04, 2008

RIP Paul Benedict

The New Mexico native played the British Mr. Bentley on The Jeffersons for most of its 10 seasons, then dined out on small parts on TV and film that drew on that association. Before he was "movin' on up" with Weezy and the gang, he played The Mad Painter on Sesame Street, leered through Mandingo, and appeared in Jeremiah Johnson, Up the Sandbox, and Smile. His most memorable film roles were as the eccentric director of the gay Hamlet in The Goodbye Girl and as Matthew Broderick's difficult film school professor in The Freshman. He worked with some frequency as an actor and director on the New York stage, where I saw him as the mayor in the 2000-2001 Music Man revival. As soon as he appeared, audience members around me urgently whispered, "Mr. Bentley...Mr. Bentley!" Benedict was amused by his immortality.

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