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"Benson" (1979) More at IMDbPro »TV series 1979-1986

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Release Date:
13 September 1979 (USA) See more »
Jessica Tate's sharp-tongued former butler, Benson DuBois, moves up in the world, becoming first the governor's "director of household affairs," then the state's budget director, then lieutenant governor and candidate for the executive mansion. Full summary »
Nominated for 4 Golden Globes. Another 3 wins & 18 nominations See more »
User Reviews:
One of the great sitcoms of the late-1970's "Benson" from the team of Harris-Witt,and Thomas See more (11 total) »


 (Series Cast Summary - 7 of 68)

Robert Guillaume ... Benson DuBois (159 episodes, 1979-1986)

James Noble ... Governor Eugene Xavier Gatling / ... (159 episodes, 1979-1986)

Inga Swenson ... Miss Gretchen Wilomena Kraus / ... (159 episodes, 1979-1986)
Missy Gold ... Katherine 'Katie' Olivia Gatling / ... (158 episodes, 1979-1986)

Rene Auberjonois ... Clayton Runnymede Endicott III / ... (135 episodes, 1980-1986)

Ethan Phillips ... Peter 'Pete' John Downey / ... (97 episodes, 1980-1984)

Didi Conn ... Denise Florence Stevens Downey / ... (73 episodes, 1981-1984)

Series Directed by
John Rich (43 episodes, 1980-1982)
Bill Foster (43 episodes, 1982-1986)
Gary Brown (21 episodes, 1983-1986)
Rob Dames (11 episodes, 1982-1986)
Jay Sandrich (7 episodes, 1979)
Tony Mordente (5 episodes, 1979-1980)
John Bowab (4 episodes, 1979-1980)
Peter Baldwin (4 episodes, 1979)
Katherine Helmond (3 episodes, 1983-1984)
Bob Fraser (3 episodes, 1985-1986)
Asaad Kelada (2 episodes, 1980)
Linda Day (2 episodes, 1982-1983)
Mark Warren (2 episodes, 1983-1984)
Gilbert Moses (2 episodes, 1984)
Series Writing credits
Susan Harris (158 episodes, 1979-1986)
Rob Dames (34 episodes, 1980-1986)
Bob Fraser (34 episodes, 1980-1986)
Bob Colleary (21 episodes, 1979-1986)
Terry Grossman (18 episodes, 1980-1984)
Kathy Speer (18 episodes, 1980-1984)
Barry Fanaro (11 episodes, 1983-1985)
Mort Nathan (11 episodes, 1983-1985)
Bill Boulware (10 episodes, 1983-1985)
Winifred Hervey (9 episodes, 1983-1985)
Rich Reinhart (7 episodes, 1980-1982)
Jeff Levin (6 episodes, 1979-1980)
Rick McCurdy (6 episodes, 1979-1980)
Tom Reeder (6 episodes, 1979-1980)
Tom Whedon (5 episodes, 1980-1981)
Ralph Phillips (5 episodes, 1982-1983)
Tom Biener (5 episodes, 1985-1986)
Ron Landry (5 episodes, 1985-1986)
John Donley (4 episodes, 1985-1986)
Clay Graham (4 episodes, 1985-1986)
Don Hart (3 episodes, 1982-1986)
Robin Pennington (3 episodes, 1984-1985)
Russ Woody (2 episodes, 1981-1982)
David Langston Smyrl (2 episodes, 1982)

Series Produced by
Paul Junger Witt .... executive producer (158 episodes, 1979-1986)
Tony Thomas .... executive producer (158 episodes, 1979-1986)
Susan Harris .... producer (157 episodes, 1979-1986)
Bob Colleary .... producer (35 episodes, 1980-1983)
Don Richetta .... producer / co-producer (28 episodes, 1979-1981)
Tom Reeder .... producer (23 episodes, 1979-1980)
Bob Fraser .... co-producer / producer (20 episodes, 1980-1986)
Rob Dames .... co-producer / producer (20 episodes, 1981-1983)
Andrew J. Selig .... associate producer (16 episodes, 1979-1980)
Tom Whedon .... producer (10 episodes, 1980-1981)
John Rich .... executive producer (4 episodes, 1980-1981)
Terry Grossman .... co-producer (4 episodes, 1983)
Kathy Speer .... co-producer (4 episodes, 1983)

Tom Biener .... co-producer (unknown episodes, 1985-1986)
Ron Landry .... co-producer (unknown episodes, 1985-1986)
Harry Waterson .... line producer (unknown episodes)
Series Original Music by
George Aliceson Tipton (3 episodes, 1979)
Series Film Editing by
Bill Petty (4 episodes, 1979-1980)
Gary Anderson (3 episodes, 1979)
Bob Fisher (3 episodes, 1980-1981)
Abe Schwartz (2 episodes, 1980)
Michael Riolo (2 episodes, 1981)
Series Casting by
Linda Otto (4 episodes, 1979)
Judith Weiner (4 episodes, 1980-1984)
Rhonda Young (4 episodes, 1980-1981)

Harriet B. Helberg (unknown episodes)
Series Production Design by
Edward Stephenson (158 episodes, 1979-1986)
Series Art Direction by
Garvin Eddy (5 episodes, 1980-1982)
Series Costume Design by
Judy Evans (30 episodes, 1979-1984)
Series Makeup Department
Art Harding .... makeup artist (12 episodes, 1979-1984)
Kathy Weltman .... hair stylist (10 episodes, 1979-1981)
Joyce Conroy .... hair stylist (3 episodes, 1979-1984)
Series Production Management
Layne Sheppard Salter .... unit manager (22 episodes, 1982-1983)
Joe Neary .... unit manager (4 episodes, 1980-1981)
Loretta Masters .... unit manager (3 episodes, 1979)
Nikki Content .... unit manager (3 episodes, 1980)
Judy Jellinek Pelta .... unit manager (2 episodes, 1984)
Michael Riolo .... post-production supervisor (2 episodes, 1984)
Series Second Unit Director or Assistant Director
Doug Smart .... associate director (4 episodes, 1980-1981)
Nancy Heydorn .... associate director (3 episodes, 1979)
Don Barnhart .... associate director (2 episodes, 1980)
To Chee Kan .... first assistant director: Hong Kong (2 episodes, 1984)
Hilton L. Smack .... associate director (2 episodes, 1984)
Series Sound Department
Ron Cronkhite .... audio / sound (7 episodes, 1979-1980)
Rich Jacob .... audio (6 episodes, 1979-1982)
Allen Patapoff .... re-recording / sound re-recording mixer (6 episodes, 1980-1984)
Nick Kleissas .... audio (2 episodes, 1984)

Ross Davis .... sound effects editor (unknown episodes)
Series Camera and Electrical Department
Stephen A. Jones .... camera operator (66 episodes, 1983-1986)
Flor Siqueiros .... camera operator (24 episodes, 1984-1986)
Dale Carlson .... camera operator (24 episodes, 1984-1985)
Alan Keath Walker .... lighting director / lighting designer / ... (15 episodes, 1979-1982)
Carol Wetovich .... camera operator (12 episodes, 1979-1980)
Donna Quante .... camera operator (9 episodes, 1979-1984)
Charles Barrett .... senior video / video (9 episodes, 1979-1981)
Bill Pope .... camera operator (9 episodes, 1979-1981)
Bill Scott .... camera operator (8 episodes, 1979-1981)
Jack Denton .... camera operator (6 episodes, 1979-1980)
John Rago .... camera operator (4 episodes, 1980-1981)
Randy Baer .... camera operator (3 episodes, 1984)

Ron Brooks .... camera operator (unknown episodes)
Iris Rosenthal .... camera operator (unknown episodes)
John C. Zak .... lighting director (unknown episodes)
Series Casting Department
Linda Otto .... original casting (3 episodes, 1980)
Series Costume and Wardrobe Department
Ron Hodge .... costumer / wardrobe (12 episodes, 1979-1984)
Mary Taylor .... costumer (2 episodes, 1984)
Series Editorial Department
Larry Mazzeo .... post-production coordinator (8 episodes, 1979-1981)
Gary Brown .... editorial supervisor (6 episodes, 1979-1980)
Jean Jellinek Jones .... post-production coordinator (6 episodes, 1979-1980)
Frank Merwald .... editorial supervisor (4 episodes, 1980-1981)
Ellen Gittelsohn .... editorial supervisor (2 episodes, 1979)
Skip Collector .... editorial assembly (2 episodes, 1984)
Adria Horton .... post-production coordinator (2 episodes, 1984)
Lex Passaris .... editorial assistant (2 episodes, 1984)
Doug Tobin .... editorial assistant (2 episodes, 1984)
Series Music Department
George Aliceson Tipton .... composer: theme music (158 episodes, 1979-1986)
Scott Gale .... music coordinator (5 episodes, 1981-1984)
Series Other crew
Frantz Turner .... dialogue director (44 episodes, 1984-1986)
Bob Colleary .... executive story editor (21 episodes, 1979-1980)
Katy Dowdalls .... script supervisor (14 episodes, 1979-1980)
Herm Falk .... technical director (11 episodes, 1979-1984)
Hilton L. Smack .... stage manager (11 episodes, 1979-1982)
Eugene L. Kahn .... script supervisor / production associate / ... (11 episodes, 1980-1984)
Jeanine Fox .... technical manager (10 episodes, 1979-1981)
Linda C. Valles .... assistant to producers / assistant to producer (10 episodes, 1979-1981)
Sue Snyder .... assistant to producers / assistant to producer / ... (9 episodes, 1979-1982)
T.J. Johnston .... production coordinator (7 episodes, 1980-1981)
Richard Baxter .... stage manager (6 episodes, 1979-1980)
Arleen Mahoney .... assistant to producers / production assistant / ... (6 episodes, 1979-1980)
Laurie Gilbert .... production assistant (5 episodes, 1979-1980)
Terry Grossman .... story consultant / executive story consultant (5 episodes, 1980-1982)
Kathy Speer .... story consultant / executive story consultant (5 episodes, 1980-1982)
Chuck Vinson .... stage manager (5 episodes, 1980-1982)
Rob Dames .... story editor (4 episodes, 1980-1981)
Bob Fraser .... story editor (4 episodes, 1980-1981)
Deborah Goodwin .... production assistant (4 episodes, 1980-1981)
Andrew J. Selig .... production executive (4 episodes, 1980-1981)
Paul Wayne .... executive story consultant (3 episodes, 1979)
Jim Wycoff .... production coordinator (3 episodes, 1979)
Michelle Burrage .... production coordinator (3 episodes, 1982-1984)
Fred D'Aguilar .... technical director (2 episodes, 1980-1984)
Harry Waterson .... production (2 episodes, 1980-1984)
Diane Talmage .... assistant to producer (2 episodes, 1981)
Jane Greene .... production assistant (2 episodes, 1984)
Sorel Kaire .... production staff (2 episodes, 1984)
Sylvia O'Gilvie .... production associate (2 episodes, 1984)
John Rago .... technical manager (2 episodes, 1984)
Stacy Saltman .... assistant to executive producers (2 episodes, 1984)
Ellis Toney .... stage manager (2 episodes, 1984)
Sim Dulaney .... production assistant (2 episodes, 1986)

Production CompaniesDistributors

Additional Details

30 min
Sound Mix:

Did You Know?

For a comedy, the show had a strange fascination with death. Several story lines involved minor or unseen characters dying and leaving the main cast somehow in a bind. Many of these deaths were unusual and were often used for comic effect such as that of the Governor's wife who was said to have been killed by horses. She was not trampled, but eaten while wearing a costume made largely of sugar. In one instance, Benson himself dies and meets with his dead mother who tells him he has a choice to either return to the living or proceed to heaven. He only decides to return to the living when he sees how bad life would be for his friends after his death. Finally, late in the series, death itself shows up in the form of G. Reaper, a mysterious man seeking refuge from a storm. Benson then has to defeat him in a game of death themed trivial pursuit to save a bus full of children also threatened by the storm.See more »
Continuity: In the episode "Fools Gold" the blueprints Benson was hiding in his robe weren't visible in early shots (long or close-up) of the scene, but can be clearly seen sticking out of his robe right before he takes them out to show the Governor.See more »
[Benson walks into the governor's office]
Governor Eugene Xavier Gatling:Benson, I must be psychic. I was just thinking of you and here you are.
Benson DuBois:Governor, you sent for me.
Governor Eugene Xavier Gatling:Oh. That's probably why I was thinking of you.
See more »
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1 out of 1 people found the following review useful.
One of the great sitcoms of the late-1970's "Benson" from the team of Harris-Witt,and Thomas, 31 October 2012
Author: rcj5365 from Durham, North Carolina

Produced by the team that bought you "Soap",and later on "The Golden Girls", "It's A Living",and "Empty Nest"(under the supervision of executive producers Susan Harris, Paul Junger-Witt,and Tony Thomas),the sitcom "Benson" became one of the biggest hits to come out of the late-1970's and continue its streak into the mid-1980's. This series was basically a spin-off from the soap opera parody "Soap"(the title character,portrayed by Robert Guillaume,had originally first appeared on the earlier series as the wise-cracking yet level-headed African American butler for the highly dysfunctional Tate family);however,"Benson" discarded the soap opera format of its parent show in favor of a more conventional sitcom structure,which was created by Susan Harris who also served as executive producer of this series.

In the show,Benson DuBois(Guillaume) had been hired to be the head of household affairs for the scatterbrained and widowed Governor Eugene Gatling(James Noble),and his daughter Katie(Missy Gold). Governor Gatling was cousin to Jessica Tate(Katherine Helmond),and Mary Campbell(Cathryn Damon),the two sisters on whose families the stories centered on "Soap". The state of which Gatling was governor remained unidentified with the series,although "Soap" had taken place in Connecticut. The series revolved around Benson's housekeeping dilemmas,his fights with the German cook Gretchen Kraus(Inga Swenson,one of Guillaume's fellow alumni from "Soap" and his interactions with John Taylor(former "Voyage To The Bottom Of The Sea" alumnus David Hedison in the pilot episode,and during the first season Lewis J. Stadlen),who assisted Governor Gatling as the chief of staff. After the first season,Taylor's job was filled by Clayton Endicott(Rene Auberjonois for the remained of the series run)who was written out by having him run for political office and actually snub his employer's endorsement. He lost the election,but returned when Benson asked him to. But in spite of their adversarial relationship(during the early years of the series)the insults between Kraus and Benson were intense at times but still became good friends. Benson also have very good relations with the Governor's secretary,Marcy Hill(Caroline McWilliams),and her successor,Denise(Didi Conn). Marcy left after the second season after getting married. Denise and Pete Downey(Ethan Phillips),the Governor's press secretary(who were introduced in Season 2)met and later married while working in the Governor's mansion and were expectant parents for most of the third-to-the-last season.

Throughout the course of the series,Benson worked his way up the ladder going from the head of household affairs to state budget director,and eventually was elevated to the position of Lieutentant Governor(by the show's final season)and almost was elected Governor in the show's final episode(which was a two-part series finale) where Benson DuBois was running against his former employer Governor Gatling. "Benson" was mostly seen on ABC's Friday night line-up of great shows,and it was a immediate hit spanning seven seasons on the air from September 13,1979 until the show's final episode on April 19,1986. A total of 158 episodes were produced. Over the course of the show's seven-year run,it was nominated for an impressive 17 Emmys. It won two including Best Actor in a Comedy Series for Guillaume(beating out Sherman Hemsley of The Jeffersons)marking the only time an African American has won the award.

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Not as good as 'Soap'? Still worth watching? theironictea
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Why exactly was Stadlen replaced? WaitingFor22
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