Former Teen Idol Robby Benson Turns 67

Herbie J Pilato
Photo byThe Classic TV Preservation Society

According to writer/entertainment historian Charles Avent on, actor Robby Benson is now 67 years old. "He rose to prominence as a teen idol in the late 1970s," Avent said, "...appearing in the films One on One (1977) and Ice Castles (1978). He subsequently garnered more fame for portraying the voice of Beast in the Disney animated film Beauty and the Beast (1991) and its numerous sequels and spin-offs. He later directed television, including six episodes of the sitcom Friends. In addition to acting and directing, Benson is an activist in the field of heart research, having undergone four open-heart surgeries since age 28 to correct congenital aortic valve defects and related damage. In 2012, he published a memoir recounting his medical journey and numerous surgeries."

In a deeper exploration of Benson's life and career, Anita Goswami of, documented:

"However, he might not have made it through all the challenges he had faced in his life if it wasn't for his wife of 40 years, Karla DeVito. The two initially got off to a rocky start because their busy schedules frequently interfered with their time together, but they persisted and made it work.

"On July 25, 2022, Benson shared a photo of himself and his singer-wife on social media for their 40th wedding anniversary, saying how "lucky" he was to have her by his side given all his health issues. "We've been married 40 years! I am the luckiest man on the planet Earth - or as lawyers say, 'and in all universes and galaxies in perpetuity!'" he wrote on Facebook."
Photo byRobby Benson and Karla DeVito got married in 1982 (Matt Winkelmeyer/Getty Images, Facebook/Robby Ben

"The artist underwent numerous open-heart surgeries throughout the years," Goswami continued, "...despite always leading a healthy, active lifestyle, as per Amomama. He had his first operation at the age of 28, in which his aortic valve was replaced by a bovine valve. Everything appeared to be in order but after 13 years of leading an active life with his valve replacement, Benson later began to experience issues with the bovine valve. As a result, he had to go for another open heart surgery.

"Unfortunately, this second procedure went wrong.

"He woke up after his second surgery and immediately had trouble breathing. His hands were also strangely fastened to the bed, and the 'sadistic' nurse refused to free him despite his wife's protests. She eventually released his hands herself and took the breathing tubes out of his mouth and only then could he tell her that he was in excruciating pain. Benson talked to USA Today about his wife, saying, 'she helped me find doctors, she made sure I was getting the best treatment, the right medicine. I'm alive because of her.'

"Benson had to undergo another surgery later, in which doctors discovered that a valve had been improperly sewn on during one of his previous surgeries, which was what caused all of his issues. Fortunately, everything appeared to go smoothly after his final surgery. His wife stayed by his side the entire time. Benson said of his wife, 'she has walked me through everything and has been my advocate. Without her, I don't think I would have been able to make it.' He added, 'When we're together, and we look into each other's eyes, and we have one another, we can handle anything. Anything.'"

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Herbie J Pilato is the author of several books about pop culture including RETRO ACTIVE TELEVISION, THE 12 BEST SECRETS OF CHRISTMAS, MARY: THE MARY TYLER MOORE STORY, TWITCH UPON A STAR, GLAMOUR, GIDGETS AND THE GIRL NEXT DOOR, DASHING, DARING AND DEBONAIR, and NBC & ME: MY LIFE AS A PAGE IN A BOOK, among others. He's also a TV writer/producer, and has worked for Reelz, Bravo, E!, TLC, and hosted THEN AGAIN WITH HERBIE J PILATO, the hit classic TV talk show (which premiered on Amazon Prime in 2019).

Los Angeles, CA

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