Dead Celebrity Sightings
New RICHARD BENJAMIN Sightings for February

Richard Benjamin

Last August - maybe around the 13th we think - Amy and I were stopped to get gas at a "Dip and Dash" on route 17 just outside of Barstow when an older man with a grizzly 9-day stubble walked out of the store with a full bag of groceries and a 6-pack of "Bud Ice." He was wearing a pair of those "space-specs," you know, those sunglasses with the huge lenses that could be concealing an alien? Or make you look like an alien, anyway? I noticed him, but it didn't occur to me at that moment that he was anybody except another desert rat like us. Anyway, Amy was having trouble getting the hose back into the pump and she got some gas on her cut-offs and started screaming at me. Really letting me have it with all the 4-letter expletives she's capable of when she gets sore. "Why the F didn't you pump the F-ing gas your F-ing self? When the F are you gonna get off your F-ing A- and be a man instead of such a F-ing girl?' You know, the usual, when suddenly this old guy just pops up next to her. He sets his Bud Ice down on the hot, soft tarred ground and takes out a handkerchief and starts blotting up the gas on her cut-offs. Well, Amy is about to turn on him when she recognizes him, same as me. And in that smooth, ironic, Jewish tone he was so famous for he says "Perhaps, Madam, he'll stop F-ing being such a F-ing girl when you decide to stop being the F-ing man." Just like that! Smooth as all get out! Just like out of that sitcom he used to be on with his wife, the lovely Paula Prentiss, "HE AND SHE." I swear! It was him! It had to be! It couldn't have been anyone other than Richard Benjamin! But before Amy or I could question him, he was gone! Just like that! No one believes us. But it was him. We both saw him. And we ain't never tried to sell the story to no one or anything like that, so what reason would we have to make it up?

Jerry and Amy Rudolf
Amboy, CA


Two years ago, my family and I were on vacation, seeing Memphis for the first time, and we were driving back from Graceland when I took a wrong turn trying to find our Motel. We wound up in a real scary part of town. It was really frightening, we were such tourists and the kids were with us. This street just seemed to be bars and liquor stores and cheap rundown flophouses, one after another. I told everyone to roll up their windows and I locked the doors and just headed the minivan toward what seemed to be the city lights of downtown.

Well, I'd driven about 4 blocks when suddenly this "lady of the night" runs right in front of the car! I slammed on the brakes and just missed hitting her, but she didn't even notice because she was too busy screaming back over her shoulder at someone. At first, I was embarrassed for the kids to hear such language but then I realized that I didn't even understand half the words! I'd never heard these street terms before. Everyone was just shocked silent and we watched as she ran across the street and into the night. Then we all make out a man running after her, he can't keep up - I guess knowing now who we think it was, he must have been in his 80s or something like that - and he's trying to get her to calm down and get her to come back He was wearing Dockers with Hush Puppies, a dress shirt with an olive V-neck sweater over it and this snap-brim golfing hat in some sort of crazy plaid. We wouldn't have recognized him except for that distinctive voice and his Jack Lemmon-like flustered stuttering. He called out, "Uh... Uh, Miss... really, it's... it's all right. I just... My cat was old anyway. Uh..." And then he sees us, does a take and falls down right in front of my car. Then one of his hands comes up and grabs the hood and then the other and, slowly, he pulls himself up until his head just clears the hood. He stares in at us and -even though he was much older than when we ever last saw him in any film- it was unmistakably Richard Benjamin! He swallowed hard and looked like he was trying to come up with something to say but couldn't. Finally, he gets all the way up, looks in at us, gesturing us to be calm and he says, "You're all dreaming. This is all just a dream. When you wake up you'll feel refreshed and... Oh crap!" And he just ran off into the night! My wife tried to snap a picture of him fleeing but when we developed it, all you could see was the flash reflecting against the window.

Sam Colliers
Norfolk, VA


If you think you've seen Richard Benjamin, or any other supposedly "deceased" star, send in your account to "Dead Celebrity Sightings."


IMPORTANT UPDATE: It has recently come to our attention that Richard Benjamin is not only still alive, he has actually made no secret of it. This surprising turn of events has taken a lot of the wind out of both the conspiracy and the supernatural sails which we were massaging with this continuing and popular column. Our confusion arose because, even though none of us had seen him much after his comic turn in "Love At First Bite," Mr. Benjamin had apparently moved on to directing which would explain both his disappearance from the screen and his ability to support himself and his lovely wife, film and television's Paula Prentiss. When the other stellar comic performer in "Love At First Bite," Dick Shawn died, we just naturally got them confused with one another.

You may still send us your Richard Benjamin Sightings to Dead Celebrity sightings but there really isn't any reason to. Anyone who wants to get a picture of him-- or with him, even-- can pretty much just head over to "Factor's Famous Deli" on Pico Boulevard in Beverly Hills any afternoon where he hangs out and eats all day and entertains the clientele with his raconteuring skill. He is particularly fond of their Factor's famous pastrami and egg omelet cooked "pancake-style."

We would like to apologize to Mr. Benjamin and, especially, his lovely and charming wife - a fine comic actress in her own right - Paula Prentiss for our little mix-up and any anxiety it may have caused them and their talented son, Ross. Ross, it should be noted has a successful career of his own having starred in the long-running and visionary television show, FRIENDS.

ANOTHER UPDATE: This is very embarrassing. We are terrific fans of the Benjamins and have enjoyed their work together and individually over the years so it particularly surprising that we completely missed the news that Mr. Benjamin's beloved wife of many years, Paula Prentiss, died several years ago of an undisclosed illness while vacationing on the Normandy Coast. She was a phenomenal talent and, we are told, was a wonderful person besides. A hard combination to attain and sustain in Show Business. It is a tremendous loss to our Industry and to the world. She will be missed.

CORRECTION ON THE UPDATE: Apparently Paula Prentiss is not dead at all and is still actively pursuing her acting career and her stand up comedy routine. We apologize for any discomfort our sloppy fact-checking may have caused her and her family.

ERRATA: Don't worry, Paula Prentiss is still alive as is Richard Benjamin and their talented son, Ross. We checked that ourselves. But she does not and has never pursued a career in stand-up comedy. We're thinking we have confused her with Paula Poundstone the former stand-up comedienne who is now serving a prison sentence for child molestation. We apologize. We are further embarrassed because, although Ross Benjamin is a recognized talent in Hollywood, he did not play the character, "Ross," on the Award-winning television series FRIENDS. That roll was essayed by the equally talented (and coincidentally equally Jewish) comic actor, David Arquette. We apologize for the confusion.

URGENT - NEW UPDATE ON THE PREVIOUS FEW CORRECTIONS: Though there was a smear campaign against Paula Poundstone last year, the charges of child molestation were dismissed. There seems to have been some confusion regarding her adopted children and some drug use that was blown completely out of proportion by the "Old Media."

CORRECTIONS REGARDING THE TV SERIES FRIENDS CASTING ERRORS: There really was no error, more of a typo really, I mean, who doesn't know that the very talented writer, director and actor who played Ross Prentiss on FRIENDS was the late David Schwimmer? We were thinking of the actress who is married to David Arquette who played the character of Monica on FRIENDS, Patricia Arquette. David Schwimmer will be greatly missed.

A FORMAL APOLOGY TO THE EXTREMELY TALENTED MISS PAULA POUNDSTONE: There was never any mention of drug use in any press or any court records that we have been able to access and owing to the seriousness of the charges - or rumors, maybe - we want to just drop the issue and take everything back. It's better if we try to not be too specific anymore. We are certain though that there was some inappropriate behavior but we don't know the extent nor the exact details. And we're pretty sure there was alcohol abuse.

OK WE THINK WE HAVE IT ALL UNDER CONTROL - A FURTHER UPDATE AND APOLOGY: We regret that David Schwimmer is NOT dead at this time, it was an error on our part. Patricia Arquette is David Arquette's brother and they are not married. The character of "Monica" on FRIENDS was played to delicious perfection by the very talented and the late Courtney Weaver-Cox. We regret any anxiety or alarm our mistakes may have caused the grieving families.

CORRECTED ERRATA UPDATE - NOT A TYPO BUT AN ACTUAL SLIP THIS TIME: OK, there's no getting around this one, but we can explain. We inadvertently inserted Carrie Weaver's name into Courtney Love-Hewitt-Theissen-Cox's because we were, of course, thinking of the scion of her husband's family, Charlie "Doodles" Weaver, who, of course, was played by the late Wally Cox. (Perhaps you remember Mr. Cox's delightful wit from the seminal 50s situation comedy where he played the eponymously befuddled teacher, MR. VAN PEABLES.) Wally Cox committed suicide in 1973 when he killed himself. He will be missed.

BRAND NEW UPDATE: We have just been informed that while we were fact-checking the previous correction, Paula Prentiss has indeed died at Cedars-Sinai Hospital. Spokesman for the family, Dr. Carrie Weaver, says she died peacefully with her husband, Dario, at her side.

WAIT A MINUTE. DARIO? Film Qua Film and Modern Mirth apologize and we will investigate this matter further until the details of this untimely tragedy can be ferreted out.

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IMPORTANT LEGAL NOTICE AND DENIAL OF RESPONSIBILITY TO BE APPENDED IMMEDIATELY TO THE "RICHARD BENJAMIN SIGHTINGS" PIECE

Let it here be known that Film Qua FIlm, Modern Mirth, its employees and their subsidiaries established now and into the future in no way condones, approves of or acknowledges the domestic use of ferrets as pets. Ferrets are delightfully feral creatures and are illegal to own as pets in California and Modern Mirth has never contended or implied otherwise at any time now or in the future. Should our position on ferrets have been misconstrued or misinterpreted in any way, it is the fault of the original author or authors of the piece referenced and does not reflect, represent, comprise or constitute an opinion or position taken by this publication as a business entity or enterprise in the State of California or the United States such as they exist pursuant to this date. We make no apologizes or warrants of any kind relating to or referencing the issue in question and being discussed herein as we consider ourselves blameless and without liability with regard to the matter being discussed or written about on paper in periodical form or novel form or as an electronic representation or portrayal of words via "The Internet" or World Wide Web or E-Book or any future technology involving the expression or transmission of information using words or thoughts including but not limited to DVD, VCD, CD-ROM, ESP, teleportation, and time-shifting technologies heretofore not yet conceived of (patent pending). Ferrets are wonderful animals. They will be missed.

FROM: ATTORNEY, MURRAY DOYLE ESQ.,
OF AMHERST, DOHENY AND FRED & A. CONAN BRIAN DOYLE-McMURRAY

And, oh yes, these pages and even my Legal Notice which you see reprinted above is copyright ©2005 by Jeff Mandel
Signed,
Murray Doyle, Esq.


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