Eriq La Salle
As the supremely confident surgeon Peter Benton on the long-running medical drama "ER" (NBC, 1994-2009), actor Eriq La Salle raised the performance bar on a series that featured a number of quality turns from other top actors. For eight seasons, he portrayed Dr. Benton and allowed the character to grow in various directions, all the while turning the actor into a bona fide star. Prior to "ER," La Salle appeared frequently on stage before landing a role as reporter Mike Rivers on "One Life to Live" (ABC, 1968-2012). From there, he shifted over to "Another World" (NBC, 1964-1999) and was memorable as the Jheri-curled heir to a hair product dynasty in the Eddie Murphy vehicle "Coming to America" (1988). Following turns in "Jacob's Ladder" (1990), "Color of Night" (1993), and "Drop Squad" (1994), La Salle had his big breakthrough on "ER," and upon departure, contributed supporting turns to several features, including "One Hour Photo" (2002). Starting in 1996, he began a second career as a director, helming episodes of "ER" as well as "The Twilight Zone" (UPN, 2002-03), "Law and Order: Special Victims Unit" (NBC, 1999- ) and "Without a Trace" (CBS, 2002-09). Whether in front of the camera or behind, La Salle was always forceful presence on any project.