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Dirk Benedict

Dirk Benedict (born Dirk Niewoehner on March 1, 1945) is an American movie, television and stage actor, perhaps best known for playing the characters Lt. Templeton "The Faceman" Peck in The A-Team television series and Lieutenant Starbuck in the original Battlestar Galactica television series. He was born in Helena, Montana, and grew up in White Sulphur Springs, Montana.

Career

At Whitman College in Walla Walla, Washington, Benedict became interested in acting. During his freshman year, he accepted a dare to audition for the spring musical and won the lead role of Gaylord Ravenal in Show Boat. He also joined the Phi Delta Theta ΦΔΘ fraternity that year, which he credits with supporting his endeavors and encouraging his development. The next three years were filled with many more musical productions. Upon graduation, Benedict began a two-year training program under John Fernald, who had headed the Royal Academy of Dramatic Art in London for fifteen years.

At that time, he started to use the stage name 'Benedict'; supposedly, whilst searching for a catchier, less ethnic name, he agreed to the suggestion of "Benedict" by his agent, who was inspired by the actor's breakfast choice of Eggs Benedict during their early morning conversation.

Benedict then played repertory theatre in Seattle and in Ann Arbor, Michigan, where he played such roles as Edmund in King Lear, Tarleton in Misalliance, Ensign Pulver in Mister Roberts, and the lead in Neil Simon's The Star-Spangled Girl. An agent sent him to an audition which resulted in a co-starring role with Diana Rigg and Keith Michell in Abelard and Heloise, first on Broadway, then in Los Angeles. Two weeks after the show closed on Broadway, Benedict was winging across the Atlantic to Sweden for his first movie, Georgia, Georgia in which he co-starred with Diana Sands. This film about draft resisters, shot entirely in Sweden, was written by Maya Angelou.

On his return to New York, Benedict replaced Keir Dullea in Butterflies Are Free on Broadway where he worked with Gloria Swanson as his mother. When the New York run ended, he received an offer to repeat his performance in Hawaii, opposite Barbara Rush. While there, he appeared as a guest lead on Hawaii Five-O. The producers of a psycho-thriller called Ssssss saw Benedict's performance in Hawaii-Five-O and promptly cast him as the lead in that movie. He next played the psychotic wife-beating husband of Twiggy in her American film debut, W. Benedict starred in the television series, Chopper One, but his career break came in 1978 when he appeared as Lieutenant Starbuck in the movie and television series Battlestar Galactica. It has been suggested that Benedict was briefly considered for the part of Indiana Jones in Raiders of the Lost Ark. He was said to be third choice behind Tom Selleck, who was contracted to Magnum, P.I. and Harrison Ford, who went on to accept the role (Benedict was thought to have been a possible Plan-B should Ford have turned-down the role). However, this story has never been officially confirmed. Four years later, Dirk gained further popularity in what is arguably his most famous and popular role, as con-man Lieutenant Templeton 'The Faceman' Peck in 1980s action television series, The A-Team. He did not appear in the Pilot film - creators Stephen J. Cannell and Frank Lupo had wanted him from the beginning, but the network executives insisted that they wanted a different sort of actor in the role. Tim Dunigan won the part; but upon completion of the Pilot, the executives decided that he wasn't quite right for the role, and it was given to Benedict after all. He played this high profile role from 1982 to 1986 (although the series didn't air until January 1983; and the final episode wasn't shown until 1987 re-runs). In 1987, Benedict took the title role of Shakespeare's Hamlet at the Abbey Theatre. Both his performance and the entire play were drubbed by critics. In 2000, Benedict wrote and directed his first screenplay, Cahoots. In 2005 he played a role in the German movie Goldene Zeiten (Times of Gold) by Peter Thorwardt. He played an 80s moviestar attempting to make a comeback.

Celebrity Big Brother

Dirk appeared as a contestant on the controversial fifth UK series of Celebrity Big Brother, broadcast in the UK. Bookmakers give him the third-best odds of winning out of the fourteen contestants. He made what is possibly the show's most memorable entrance to date, arriving in the classic A-Team Van (although this was a replica, not an original, as it sported a red instead of a tan interior), accompanied by the famous theme tune. He also smoked a cigar on his entrance to the house, and claimed to a fellow housemate to have a whole stock of cigars in his luggage. He had also told the Big Brother producers "no cigars, no Benedict" as part of the deal to appear on the show.

A memorable moment occurred a few minutes after he arrived in the house, when drunk punk singer Donny Tourette said "It's Dirk fucking Benedict", to which Dirk dryly responded "I seldom use my middle name". In a similar vein, Dirk also has admitted to flirting with fellow housemate, Bollywood actress Shilpa Shetty and when asked by Big Brother if he wanted anything, he replied "Can you give me Shilpa's phone number?"

Dirk was the third to last contestant to be evicted from Celebrity Big Brother, finishing in third place overall with 16% of the public vote. All the three remaining contestants were non-Brits. Recon 7 Down 2008 release

Personal

Family

In 1986, he married Toni Hudson, an actress (who had previously appeared in the fourth season A-Team episode "Blood, Sweat and Cheers"), with whom he has two sons, George and Roland. They divorced in 1995. In 1998, Benedict learned that he also has another son, John (born 1968), from a youthful relationship. His son Roland, a young up and coming footballer currently on a trial at Southend United Fc

Health

Benedict is a vegetarian.

Benedict was diagnosed with prostate cancer in 1974. The medical doctors recommended surgery, but he claimed to have cured his cancer through a macrobiotic diet recommended by Gloria Swanson, exercise and fasting, over a period of 3 years under the guidance of Michio Kushi according to his book Confessions of a Kamikaze Cowboy He continues the diet to this day.

Reaction to the re-imagined Battlestar Galactica

Benedict was sharply critical of the revived series, and the changes to the story and characters. A May 2004 article in Dreamwatch magazine, entitled "Starbuck: Lost in Castration", revealed his disdain for the re-imagined series, its dark tone and its moral relativism. Benedict said, "'Re-imagining', they call it. 'Un-imagining' is more accurate. To take what once was and twist it into what never was intended. So that a television show based on hope, spiritual faith, and family is unimagined and regurgitated as a show of despair, sexual violence and family dysfunction."

Benedict focused in particular on the decision to recast Lieutenant Starbuck as a female character, Kara Thrace, whom he derisively refers to as "Stardoe". He relates the change to what he perceives as a general anti-masculinity agenda, saying "One thing is certain. In the new un-imagined, re-imagined world of Battlestar Galactica everything is female driven. The male characters, from Adama on down, are confused, weak, and wracked with indecision while the female characters are decisive, bold, angry as hell, puffing cigars (gasp) and not about to take it any more."

Filmography

As director

As writer

Notable TV guest appearances

References

External links

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