A professional child actor, Robby Benson became an internationally recognized teen idol in the era of David Cassidy and Donny Osmond with lead roles in such youth-market films as "Jory" (1973) and "Jeremy" (1973). Savvier and seemingly more grounded than many of his Tiger Beat contemporaries, the actor branched out from his popular cute guy turns in "Ode to Billy Joe" (1976) and "Ice Castles" (1978) to embrace edgier, more mature roles in the grim made-for-TV movie "The Death of Richie" (1977), the LA gang saga "Walk Proud" (1978) and the well-regarded period piece "The Chosen" (1981). Denied a lead role in "Star Wars" (1977) and opting out of "Apocalypse Now" (1979), Benson began actualizing his own film projects by 1977, beginning with the college basketball drama "One on One" (1977), which he co-wrote, and "Die Laughing" (1980), an Alfred Hitchcock pastiche that he produced in partnership with Jon Peters. Born with a congenital heart defect, Benson underwent open heart surgery for the first time in 1984 and dropped out of the high pressure life of a Hollywood leading man to focus on playing character parts and on directing his own films. A much in-demand TV director, a professor of filmmaking at New York University, and a busy voiceover artist - including that of the Beast in Disney's "Beauty and the Beast" (1992) - Benson weathered an almost 50-year career in the industry, his endurance and positive attitude turning on its head the accepted wisdom that nice guys always finish last.