Veteran actor Paul Benjamin, 1 of the wise 'cornermen' in Spike Lee's 'Do the Right Thing', dies aged 81

Benjamin's career saw its beginnings in 1969 as a bartender in 'Midnight Cowboy.' Following years would see him land small roles in Sidney Lumet’s 'The Anderson Tapes' and 'Born to Win,' reported Deadline. The 1970s saw him engaged in comparatively extensive TV work.


                            Veteran actor Paul Benjamin, 1 of the wise 'cornermen' in Spike Lee's 'Do the Right Thing', dies aged 81

Veteran actor and 'Do the Right Thing' star Paul Benjamin died June 28 according to an Instagram post. Benjamin was 81 and the cause of his death has not been detailed yet.

Spike Lee, who directed 'Do the Right Thing' announced the demise on his official Instagram account. Posting a still from the movie, Lee wrote: "I’m Sad To Write That The Great Actor PAUL BENJAMIN (Who Played ML, [Far Left] One Of The Cornermen) Passed This Past Friday, 2 Days Before The 30th Anniversary Of DO THE RIGHT THING. Rest In Paradise. Born 1/1/38. Died 6/28/19."

Benjamin was one of the three wise "cornermen" from Brooklyn in the 1989 flick - Benjamin played ML alongside Frankie Faison as Coconut Sid and Robin Harris as Sweet Dick Willie. Wise, because the three would gather on a Brooklyn street under a beach umbrella and red brick wall backdrop as they would exchange opinion on the day's proceedings.

Benjamin's career saw its beginnings in 1969 as a bartender in 'Midnight Cowboy.' Following years would see him land small roles in Sidney Lumet’s 'The Anderson Tapes' and 'Born to Win,' reported Deadline. The 1970s saw him engaged in comparatively extensive TV work.

His character in a 1988 episode of 'In The Heat of the Night' was on death row and his role in the 1994 pilot of 'ER' led to a recurring role as a homeless man. Other noteworthy works include the American Masters documentary of Pulitzer Prize-winning author Ralph Ellison, featured on PBS and guest roles in 'Law and Order' and 'The Shield.'

Benjamin was no stranger to the big stars and boasted credits in 'Escape From Alcatraz' (1979), 'Some Kind of Hero' (1982) opposite Richard Pryor, Martin Ritt’s Barbra Streisand and Clint Eastwood-starrer 'Pink Cadillac' (1989). Added to above are roles in Robert Townsend’s 'The Five Heartbeats' (1991), Bill Duke’s 'Hoodlum' (1997), and John Singleton’s 'Rosewood' (1997).

His work in the 21st Century was largely in independent films 'Stanley’s Gig', 'The Station Agent', 'Deacons For Defense', and 2005's 'Back in the Day,' the last one by James Hunter.

The youngest of 12 children, born New Year's Day 1938, Benjamin was a son of a preacher, according to The Hollywood Reporter. Benjamin made more than a fair contribution to blaxploitation films with credits in 'The Education of Sonny Carson' (1974) and Pam Grier's 'Friday Foster' (1975).

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