Date of Birth: September 29, 1932
When Robert Benton was hired by Esquire magazine in 1956, little did he know that he’d just begun on the path to becoming an Oscar®-winning director and writer. It was at Esquire that he met fellow editor David Newman and the two of them collaborated on their first screenplay based on the real life story of the violent bank robbers. Starring Warren Beatty and Faye Dunaway, the film went on to win multiple awards, including two Oscars®. Benton and Newman not only shared an Oscar® nomination, but two Writer’s Guild Awards, a New York Film Critics Award and a National Society of Film Critics Award.
Benton and Newman went on to write the screenplays for There Was a Crooked Man (1970) starring Kirk Douglas and Henry Fonda, collaborated with Buck Henry on What’s Up Doc? (1972), and wrote Bad Company (1972), which served as Benton’s directorial debut. Benton directed and was the sole writer on The Late Show (1977), and won an Edgar Allan Poe award for Best Motion Picture as well as receiving his second Oscar® nomination.
It was with his third feature as a director that Benton had the most success. Starring Dustin Hoffman and Meryl Streep, Kramer vs. Kramer (1979) was not only a box office smash hit, but earned critical acclaim, winning five Oscars®, including two for Benton for Best Screenplay and for Best Director as well as four Golden Globes, including one for Best Screenplay. Benton again teamed up with Newman for his next film, Still of the Night (1982), starring Roy Scheider and Meryl Streep, then went out again on his own to write and direct Places in the Heart (1984), starring Sally Field. Again, Benton had a box office hit on his hands, and he picked up another Oscar® for Best Screenplay as well as two awards from the Berlin Film Festival and a People’s Choice award at the Toronto Film Festival.
Nadine (1987), starring Jeff Bridges and Kim Basinger, wasn’t a hit, but Benton was back on track with Billy Bathgate (1991), starring Dustin Hoffman and Nicole Kidman. Nobody’s Fool (1994), starring Paul Newman, did respectably at the box office and earned Benton yet another Oscar® nomination. Newman also starred in Benton’s next film, Twilight (1998), but it wasn’t quite the crowd pleaser that some of his earlier films had been. Five years later Benton returned to filmmaking, but this time directing a screenplay written by Nicholas Meyer, with The Human Stain (2003), starring Nicole Kidman and Anthony Hopkins.
The Human Stain (2003)
Nobody's Fool (1994)
Billy Bathgate (1991)
Places in the Heart (1984)
Still of the Night (1982)
Kramer vs. Kramer (1979)
The Late Show (1977)
Bad Company (1972)