Ben Piazza (July 30, 1933 – September 7, 1991) was an American actor.
Benito Daniel Piazza
July 30, 1933
Little Rock, Arkansas, U.S.
|Died||September 7, 1991 58) (aged|
Sherman Oaks, California, U.S.
|Resting place||Forest Lawn Memorial Park (Glendale)|
|Alma mater||Princeton University (1955)|
|Occupation||Actor, playwright, author|
|Known for||The Very Strange and Exact Truth (1964 novel)|
|The Hanging Tree|
(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).
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. 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. Piazza was in a committed relationship with Wayne Tripp, from 1973 until Piazza died of AIDS-related cancer in 1991.
|1957||A Dangerous Age||David|
|1959||The Hanging Tree||Rune|
|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||The Concorde ... Airport '79||Associate||TV version, Uncredited|
|1980||The Blues Brothers||Father|
|1982||Waltz Across Texas||Bill Wrather|
|1988||Clean and Sober||Kramer|
|1991||Guilty by Suspicion||Darryl Zanuck|
- "Little Rock Look Back: Ben Piazza". Little Rock Culture Vulture. July 30, 2013. Retrieved February 9, 2016.
- "The Very Exact and Strange Truth". The Neglected Books Page. May 23, 2010.
- "Ben Piazza Gets Contract". Montreal Gazette. July 29, 1958. Retrieved August 12, 2019.
- Piazza, Ben (1964). The Exact and Very Strange Truth (First ed.). Farrar, Straus. ASIN B0007DZ7WG. ISBN 978-0014105380.
- Hendricks, Nancy (May 24, 2017). "Ben Piazza". Encyclopedia of Arkansas History & Culture. Retrieved August 12, 2019.
- "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”.
- Ben Piazza on IMDb
- Ben Piazza at the Internet Broadway Database
- Ben Piazza at the Internet Broadway Database (juvenile credits)
- Ben Piazza at Find a Grave
- Ben Piazza at the University of Wisconsin's Actors Studio audio collection