Paul Benedict (September 17, 1938 – December 1, 2008) was an American character actor who made numerous appearances in television and movies beginning in the 1960s. He is probably best recognized for his roles as The Number Painter on the PBS children’s show Sesame Street, and as the quirky English neighbor "Harry Bentley" on the CBS sitcom The Jeffersons.
Death of Paul Benedict
On December 1, 2008, Benedict was found dead at his home in Martha’s Vineyard, Massachusetts. Paul Benedict was 70 years old at the time of his death.
Benedict was born in Silver City, New Mexico, the son of Alma Marie (née Loring), a journalist, and Mitchell M. Benedict, a doctor. He grew up in Massachusetts. As a young man, he suffered from acromegaly, a pituitary disorder that affects the extremities and face, which accounted for his slightly oversized jaw and nose.
As could be heard in his other film and TV roles, he had a slight English accent even when not in character as Bentley. Benedict played the director of the Richard III production in the 1977 movie The Goodbye Girl starring Richard Dreyfuss, in which Richard was to be portrayed in the play as a stereotypical gay man. He was in a short scene in the 1984 mockumentary film This is Spinal Tap, playing the awkward desk clerk who checks in the band. In the 1990 film The Freshman, he played the condescending NYU film school professor of Matthew Broderick’s main character. He also made a memorable appearance as the incorrectly assumed title character in the 1996 film Waiting for Guffman, another mockumentary involving many of the same writers and actors.
Benedict also played the role of a slave trader in Dino De Laurentiis’ Mandingo opposite James Mason and Perry King in 1975. Perhaps his best known movie role was of the reverend Lundquist in the 1972 Sydney Pollack film Jeremiah Johnson.