Martin Benson (actor)
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|Born||Martin Benjamin Benson
10 August 1918
London, England, UK
|Died||28 February 2010
Markyate, Hertfordshire, England, UK
|Spouse(s)||Joan Oliver (?–?) divorced
Joy Swinson-Benson (?–2010) (his death)
He is remembered for his role as the Kralaholme in the original London production of The King and I, a role he recreated in the Oscar winning film version.
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.
Personal life and death
He was a son of a Russian grocer and his Polish wife who had left Russia at the revolution. He married, first Joan Oliver, with whom he had three daughters and a son and then Joy Swinson, with whom he had two daughters and a son; there was a son by another relationship.
Benson died in his sleep on 28 February 2010, from natural causes, aged 91 at his home in Markyate, Hertfordshire. He is survived by his wife, Joy Swinson-Benson, his three daughters, his son, his two stepdaughters and one stepson.