Ben Piazza

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Ben Piazza
Benito Daniel Piazza

(1933-07-30)July 30, 1933
DiedSeptember 7, 1991(1991-09-07) (aged 58)
Resting placeForest Lawn Memorial Park (Glendale)
Alma materPrinceton University (1955)[1]
OccupationActor, playwright, author
Years active1951–1991
Known forThe Very Strange and Exact Truth (1964 novel)[2]
Notable work
The Hanging Tree
(m. 1967; div. 1979)
Partner(s)Wayne Tripp (1973–1991)

Ben Piazza (July 30, 1933 – September 7, 1991) was an American actor.

Life and career[edit]

Piazza made his film debut in Sidney J. Furie's Canadian film A Dangerous Age (1959) followed by his Hollywood debut in The Hanging Tree (1959). Though he signed contracts with Warner Bros. and Gary Cooper's production companies for five years, he did not make another film until No Exit (1962).[3]

A prolific television and film character actor, Piazza is perhaps most widely recognized as the wealthy restaurant patron in John Landis' 1980 comedy hit The Blues Brothers from whom Jake (John Belushi) offers to purchase his wife and daughter. Prior to that, he also played the violent boyfriend who scars Liza Minnelli's character's face in Otto Preminger's Tell Me That You Love Me, Junie Moon (1970). Piazza's other film appearances include The Candy Snatchers (1973); Piazza played a dramatic role in an episode of Barnaby Jones, titled “Bond of Fear” (04/15/1975),The Bad News Bears (1976), I Never Promised You a Rose Garden (1977), Nightwing (1979), Peter Bogdanovich's Mask (1985), Clean and Sober (1988), and Guilty by Suspicion (1991), in which he portrayed Hollywood film director/mogul Darryl F. Zanuck. In 1986, Piazza had a three-month stint on the daytime soap opera Santa Barbara as Dr. A.L. Rawlings.[4]

Piazza also wrote plays and a novel, The Exact and Very Strange Truth (1964), a coming-of-age story about an Italian-American boy in Little Rock, Arkansas, which was Piazza’s hometown.[2][5] However, Ben wrote in the book’s introduction that any resemblance between the characters and real people was “irrelevant”, although the parallels to his own life were unmistakable. Piazza dedicated the book to openly gay playwright Edward Albee, who was a close friend.

Personal life and death[edit]

Piazza was married to actress Dolores Dorn from 1967 until 1979.[6] Piazza was in a committed relationship with Wayne Tripp, from 1973 until Piazza died of AIDS-related cancer in 1991.[7]


Year Title Role Notes
1957 A Dangerous Age David
1959 The Hanging Tree Rune
1962 No Exit Camarero
1970 Tell Me That You Love Me, Junie Moon Jesse
1972 The Outside Man Desk Clerk
1973 The Candy Snatchers Avery
1976 The Bad News Bears Bob Whitewood
1977 I Never Promised You a Rose Garden Jay Blake
1979 Nightwing Roger Piggott
1979 The Concorde ... Airport '79 Associate TV version, Uncredited
1980 The Blues Brothers Father
1982 Waltz Across Texas Bill Wrather
1985 Mask Mr. Simms
1988 Clean and Sober Kramer
1990 Rocky V Doctor Uncredited
1991 Guilty by Suspicion Darryl Zanuck


  1. ^ "Little Rock Look Back: Ben Piazza". Little Rock Culture Vulture. July 30, 2013. Retrieved February 9, 2016.
  2. ^ a b "The Very Exact and Strange Truth". The Neglected Books Page. May 23, 2010.
  3. ^ "Ben Piazza Gets Contract". Montreal Gazette. July 29, 1958. Retrieved August 12, 2019.
  4. ^
  5. ^ Piazza, Ben (1964). The Exact and Very Strange Truth (First ed.). Farrar, Straus. ISBN 978-0014105380.
  6. ^ Hendricks, Nancy (May 24, 2017). "Ben Piazza". Encyclopedia of Arkansas History & Culture. Retrieved August 12, 2019.
  7. ^ "Ben Piazza; Broadway, Screen Actor". Los Angeles Times. September 14, 1991. Retrieved February 9, 2016.

Demetria Fulton; reviewed Piazza in Barnaby Jones episode “Bond of Fear”.

External links[edit]