Richard Benjamin

  1. Elliott Gould, Bob & Carol & Ted & Alice, 1969. Ted.   (Also refused by James Caan and  Peter Falk).
  2. Woody Allen, Play It Again, Sam, 1971. Knowing Hollywood hated using the original Broadway stars of a play, Woody Allen suggested he and Diane Keaton be replayed by Richard Benjamin (Woody’s alter ego 25 years later in Deconstructing Harry) and his wife, Paula Prentiss. Then, Bananas was such a surprise success that Paramount insisted on the Broadway folk: Woody, Diane, Tony Roberts and Jerry Lacy (as Bogie).
  3. Woody Allen,  Everything You Always Wanted To Know About Sex * But Were Afraid To Ask, 1971. Friendship with Woody is one thing but… Benjamin and wife, Paula Prentiss, passed on being the couple in the third stanza: Why Do Some Women Have Trouble Reaching an Orgasm? Allen made it as an homage to Michelangelo Antonioni. The best-selling author, Dr David Reuben (150m copies sold in 52 countries) hated the film, but then Woody’s parody of the sex manual was his revenge on Reuben for stealing one of his Take The Money And Run jokes on TV. Johnny Carson: “Is sex dirty?” Reuben: “It is if you’re doing it right.”
  4. Richard Chamberlain, The Towering Inferno, 1974.  Benjamin passed because he was fed up of being what the LA Times called “a whining petulant bore by doing too good a job of acting in a series of sleazy roles.” Chamberlain likewise took over to avoid his usual Goody Two Shoes roles force-fed by Dr Kildare, TV, 1961-1966. 
  5. Nick Nolte, The Deep, 1976.   Richard Benjamin (who successfully switched from comedy to drama  inWestworld In 1973),  Jeff Bridges,  Paul LeMat,  Ryan O’Neal and Jan Michael Vincent were on casting directors Mike Fenton and Jane Feinberg’s list for  David Sanders. Plus TV star David Groh which led to people thinking of their TV favourites…  like Chevy Chase leading, inevitably, to Nolte – “the hottest thing on television,” said producer Peter Guber’s diary.

 Birth year: Death year: Other name: Casting Calls:  5