Ben Piazza

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

Ben Piazza
Born
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
Spouse(s)
Dolores Dorn
(m. 1967; div. 1979)
Partner(s)Wayne Tripp (1973–1991)

Life and career

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 didn't 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 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), where he portrayed Hollywood film director/mogul Darryl F. Zanuck.

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][4] 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

Piazza was married to actress Dolores Dorn from 1967 until 1979.[5] Piazza was in a committed relationship with Wayne Tripp, from 1973 until Piazza died of AIDS-related cancer in 1991.[6]

Filmography

Year Title Role Notes
1957A Dangerous AgeDavid
1959The Hanging TreeRune
1962No ExitCamarero
1970Tell Me That You Love Me, Junie MoonJesse
1972The Outside ManDesk Clerk
1973The Candy SnatchersAvery
1976The Bad News BearsBob Whitewood
1977I Never Promised You a Rose GardenJay Blake
1979NightwingRoger Piggott
1979The Concorde ... Airport '79AssociateTV version, Uncredited
1980The Blues BrothersFather
1982Waltz Across TexasBill Wrather
1985MaskMr. Simms
1988Clean and SoberKramer
1990Rocky VDoctorUncredited
1991Guilty by SuspicionDarryl Zanuck

References

  1. "Little Rock Look Back: Ben Piazza". Little Rock Culture Vulture. July 30, 2013. Retrieved February 9, 2016.
  2. "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. Piazza, Ben (1964). The Exact and Very Strange Truth (First ed.). Farrar, Straus. ASIN B0007DZ7WG. ISBN 978-0014105380.
  5. Hendricks, Nancy (May 24, 2017). "Ben Piazza". Encyclopedia of Arkansas History & Culture. Retrieved August 12, 2019.
  6. "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”.


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