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Martin Benjamin Benson
10 August 1918
|Died||28 February 2010 (aged 91)|
Markyate, Hertfordshire, England
|Spouse(s)||Joan Oliver (?–?) divorced |
Joy Swinson-Benson (m. 1977–2010) (his death)
Benson was born in the East End of London, into a Jewish family, the son of a Russian-Jewish grocer and his Polish-Jewish wife who had left Russia at the revolution. After attending Tottenham Grammar School on a scholarship, he served in the 2nd Searchlight, Royal Artillery, during World War II. Stationed in Cairo, Egypt, he and Arthur Lowe founded the repertory company Mercury Theatre in Alexandria.
Appearing in films for over six decades, Benson played mostly supporting characters or villains. His films include The Blind Goddess (1948), Wheel of Fate (1953), Interpol (1957), The Strange World of Planet X (1958), Once More, with Feeling! (1959), Exodus (1960), Five Golden Hours (1961), A Shot in the Dark (1964), Pope Joan (1972), The Sea Wolves (1980) and Angela's Ashes (1999).
He also had an uncredited role in MGM's hit historical film, Ivanhoe, and in 1963 he acted in another historic film, as Ramos in Cleopatra (which also starred Elizabeth Taylor). Benson played both serious roles, such as Ali in Killers of Kilimanjaro (1959) and comic roles, such as Maurice in A Shot in the Dark.
He appeared in many roles on television. He appeared as a barrister, using his own name, in the unscripted series The Verdict is Yours which ran for several years in the 1950s. Cases were shown and the previously unknown verdict was given by jury of viewers. In 1957 he made a guest appearance on The Jack Benny Show. In the same year he played the recurring character the Duke de Medici in the children's adventure series Sword of Freedom. In 1981 he appeared in the television production of The Hitch Hiker's Guide to the Galaxy, albeit unrecognisable under the heavy make-up and costume of Prostetnic Vogon Jeltz, leader of the Vogon fleet sent to destroy Earth. His last appearance was in the TV series Casualty in 2005.
Benson died in his sleep on 28 February 2010, from natural causes.
- Suspected Person (1942) as minor role (uncredited)
- The Blind Goddess (1948) as Count Stephan Mikla
- But Not in Vain (1948) as Mark Meyer
- Trapped by the Terror (1949) as Prison Governor
- Under Capricorn (1949) as Man Carrying Shrunken Head (uncredited)
- The Adventures of PC 49: Investigating the Case of the Guardian Angel (1949) as Skinny Ellis
- I'll Get You for This (1951) as Frankie Sperazza
- Assassin for Hire (1951) as Catesby
- Night Without Stars (1951) as White Cap
- The Dark Light (1951) as Luigi
- Hotel Sahara (1951) as Minor Role (uncredited)
- Mystery Junction (1951) as Steve Harding
- Judgment Deferred (1952) as Pierre Desportes
- The Frightened Man (1952) as Alec Stone
- Wide Boy (1952) as Rocco
- Ivanhoe (1952) as Minor Role (uncredited)
- The Gambler and the Lady (1952) as Tony - Pat's Dance Partner
- Top of the Form (1953) as Cliquot
- Wheel of Fate (1953) as Riscoe
- Recoil (1953) as Farnborough
- Always a Bride (1953) as Hotel Desk Clerk (uncredited)
- Black 13 (1953) as Bruno
- Escape by Night (1953) as Guillio
- You Know What Sailors Are (1954) as Agrarian Officer (uncredited)
- West of Zanzibar (1954) as Dhofar
- Knave of Hearts (1954) as Art (uncredited)
- Passage Home (1955) as Gutierres
- Doctor at Sea (1955) as Head Waiter (uncredited)
- Soho Incident (aka Spin a Dark Web) (1956) as Rico Francesi
- 23 Paces to Baker Street (1956) as Pillings
- The King and I (1956) as Kralahome
- Istanbul (1957) as Mr. Darius
- Doctor at Large (1957) as Maharajah of Rhanda
- Interpol (1957) as Captain Varolli
- The Flesh Is Weak (1957) as Angelo Giani
- Man from Tangier (1957) as Voss
- Windom's Way (1957) as Samcar, Rebel Commander (uncredited)
- The Strange World of Planet X (1958) as Smith
- Sea of Sand (1958) as German Half-track Officer (uncredited)
- The Two-Headed Spy (1958) as Gen. Wagner
- Make Mine a Million (1959) as Chairman
- Killers of Kilimanjaro (1959) as Ali
- Dial 999 (TV series) (Special Branch), episode 13) (1959) as Waymac (filmed 1958)
- Once More, with Feeling! (1960) as Luigi Bardini
- Oscar Wilde (1960) as George Alexander
- Sands of the Desert (1960) as Selim
- The Gentle Trap (1960) as Ricky Barnes
- The 3 Worlds of Gulliver (1960) as Flimnap
- Exodus (1960) as Mordekai
- Gorgo (1961) as Dorkin
- Five Golden Hours (1961) as Enrico
- A Matter of WHO (1961) as Rahman
- The Silent Invasion (1962) as Borge
- Satan Never Sleeps (1962) as Kuznietsky
- Village of Daughters (1962) as 1st Pickpocket
- Captain Clegg (1962) as Mr. Rash (innkeeper)
- I tre nemic (1962) as Prof. Otto Kreutz
- The Fur Collar (1962) as Martin Benson
- Cleopatra (1963) as Ramos
- Mozambique (1964) as Da Silva
- The Secret Door (1964) as Edmundo Vara
- A Shot in the Dark (1964) as Maurice
- Behold a Pale Horse (1964) as Priest
- Goldfinger (1964) as Mr. Solo
- The Secret of My Success (1965) as Rex Mansard
- A Man Could Get Killed (1966) as Politanu
- The Magnificent Two (1967) as President Diaz
- Battle Beneath the Earth (1967) as Gen. Chan Lu
- Pope Joan (1972) as Lothair
- Tiffany Jones (1973) as Petcek
- The Omen (1976) as Father Spiletto
- Mohammad, Messenger of God (1976) as Abu-Jahal
- Al-risâlah (1976) as Kisra
- Jesus of Nazareth (1977, TV mini-series) as Pharisee
- Meetings with Remarkable Men (1979) as Dr. Ivanov
- The Human Factor (1979) as Boris
- The Sea Wolves (1980) as Mr. Montero
- Sphinx (1981) as Muhammed
- Young Toscanini (1988) as Comparsa (uncredited)
- Capstick's Law (1989) as maitre d'hotel
- The Camomile Lawn (1992) as Pauli Erstweiler
- Angela's Ashes (1999) as Christian Brother
- "Martin Benson". The Daily Telegraph. UK. 29 March 2010. Archived from the original on 28 December 2016.
- "Martin Benson obituary". The Times. UK. 4 March 2010.
Martin Benson passed away peacefully in his sleep on Sunday 28th February 2010.
- "Martin Benson". BFI. Archived from the original on 11 July 2012.
- William D. Rubinstein, Michael Jolles, Hilary L. Rubinstein, The Palgrave Dictionary of Anglo-Jewish History, Palgrave Macmillan (2011), p. 75
- Gaughan, Gavin (6 May 2010). "Martin Benson obituary". The Guardian. UK. Archived from the original on 28 March 2016. Retrieved 23 April 2017.
- "Martin Benson". www.aveleyman.com.
- "Martin Benson - Movies and Filmography". AllMovie.
- III, Harris M. Lentz (21 March 2016). Obituaries in the Performing Arts, 2010. McFarland. ISBN 9780786486496 – via Google Books.
- "Martin Benson - Biography, Movie Highlights and Photos". AllMovie.
- "Actor Martin Benson dies". The Stage.
- "Capstick's Law Episode 6 (1989)". BFI. Retrieved 21 May 2020.