Do you ever wonder what happened to Dirk Benedict? The popular star of such fan favorites as Battlestar Gallactica, Charlie’s Angels, The A Team, and Sssssss seems to have disappeared from the limelight. At the height of his fame, he was one of the more popular actors in Hollywood. In this video, we’re going to cover Dirk’s career, his rise to fame, and the shocking reason that he is no longer prominent in Hollywood.
The characters Dirk played for the most part tended to be cocky and self-assured with a lot of charisma. People loved him, or they loved to hate him. He known for giving great performances and raising the bar for the other actors around him. So how did this young actor get his start? And where did things go wrong? Let’s find out.
Dirk Benedict’s Real Name
Dirk Benedict was born Dirk Niewoehner in 1945 in Helena, Montana to Priscilla Mella, an accountant, and George Niewoehner, a lawyer. He grew up predominately in White Sulphur Springs, Montana. His parents divorced by the time he was 16, and at 18, his father passed away. There’s a story that he changed his name after being served eggs benedict right before a theatre performance, and for whatever reason, the name stuck.
Dirk attended college at Whitman College, where he studied music and played football. He was a typical All-American male, weighing in at 200 pounds. He graduated from Whitman in 1967. Dirk performed in repertory theatre initially. Eventually, he moved on from that to star on Broadway. His first Broadway play was Abelard and Heloise, starring Diana Rigg and Keith Michel. It ran in Los Angeles at the Ahmanson theatre for a 6-week pre-Broadway tryout. He was just 22 at the time. In 1969, he supposed to join the military, but he disqualified from that by a head injury that he’d received playing football. His Broadway roles also included a part in a 1972 production of Butterflies are Free.
From Broadway, he moved on to television and film. His first role in film was in a film called Georgia, Georgia. He was then offered an extended run of Butterflies are Free in Hawaii. While he was there performing in that show, he scored a guest star role on “Hawaii Five-O.” The producers of the 1973 film, Sssssss, a new movie, saw his performance and cast him. Dirk starred as a man undergoing a painful transformation from man to snake. By the end of the film, Dirk is full on wrestling a mongoose, though this scene was ultimately cut from the film. Other film and television roles during this time include the role of a wife-beating husband opposite Twiggy in the film W, which was her American debut, as well as roles in the Charlie’s Angels series, Chopper One, and the “Donny and Marie” variety show.
Dirk Benedict’s Tragic Diagnosis
However, things took a turn for the worse in 1974, when Benedict, only 29 at the time, diagnosed with prostate cancer. Benedict rejected traditional treatments, choosing instead to fight the cancer by moving to a secluded cottage and adopting a macrobiotic diet, consisting only of white-meat fish, whole grains and certain vegetables. Actress Gloria Swanson and her husband William Dufty introduced Dirk to Michio Kushi, a macrobiotics expert who resided in Boston. Kushi was the leading macrobiotic diagnostician in the United States. For thousands of people suffering from cancer, this man was a prophet, their last hope. When Dirk first met Kushi, he didn’t really buy into his philosophies.
However, after being disappointed with the medical advice he was being given, he finally wound up at Kushi’s doorstep. As a result of the diet Kushi prescribed to Benedict, Dirk lost 60 pounds, becoming a mere shell of his former self. He went down to a shockingly low 135 pounds. It affected his appearance drastically. When he went to visit his mother and sister during this time, both of whom scared for him because of his appearance.
Dirk’s efforts, however, proved successful, and after several years fighting his illness, he finally put weight back on, and he was ready to get back out there. He got a clean bill of health from his doctor, Dr. Block, and he told he didn’t have the tumor anymore. Dirk still maintains a healthy diet, eating about 60 percent grains, 25 percent beans and the other 15 percent is side dishes like nuts, seeds, fruit and fish. He does recognize, though, that there’s really no such thing as being cured. His cancer could come back, which is why it’s important to continue to eat and live healthy. He still believes that the preparation of food is one of the most important things we do each day. After he learned he was free of his tumor, he returned to the business of being an actor.
Dirk Benedict Bounces Back
He came to stay in Los Angeles to attempt to get back into the swing of things and pick up his career again. His former agent and manager somehow didn’t even know he had gone. While he was staying with Gloria Swanson and Bill Dufty, he took a general meeting with Glen Larson. Glen, at the time, was in the middle of prepping a major sci-fi project for Universal and ABC television, which promised to be like nothing that had been on television before. That project was Battlestar Galactica, on which Dirk would star as Lieutenant Starbuck on. Starbuck was a cigar-smoking womanizer who also had the reputation of being a great pilot and a brutal warrior.
He was a fan favorite on the show. After he left, they recast the role of Starbuck with a female actress, which Dirk wasn’t a fan of. He thought she should have been a new character rather than taking over as Starbuck. He felt a sense of ownership over the legendary character he had created.
The same year he landed the role on Battlestar, he also starred in the TV film Cruise into Terror. A year later, he appeared in an ensemble film entitled Scavenger Hunt. A few years later, Dirk landed the role of “Face” Peck in The A-Team. This would be Dirk’s last major role for a while. He found that working on The A-Team didn’t make him terribly happy and needed to “be balanced by some good, honest airplane scrubbing.”
Since then, Dirk has only worked sporadically in film, television and theatre. He has, however, authored two books: his memoir, Confessions of a Kamikaze Cowboy and the other an autobiography, And Then We Went Fishing. He also wrote his own one man show. In the early 2000’s, Dirk also directed and wrote the indie drama Cahoots.
Why You Don’t See Dirk Bendict Anymore
So was is cancer that derailed his career? Possibly. There is also some speculation his career went downhill because Hollywood can’t stand an original thinker. Dirk felt like Hollywood ostracized him because of his different way of thinking. Dirk even said, “To be creative is a risk, with the possibility of failure. This makes Hollywood nervous.” Dirk commented that anytime he would talk about things like character, story and originality, people wanted to throw him out of the room. Dirk even confesses that while he wanted to act, he didn’t necessarily want to be a movie star.
The real reason though, might have something to do with fatherhood. As The A-Team was winding down, in 1986, Dirk Benedict met and married Toni Hudson. They had two sons together: George and Roland. Dirk is an outstanding and caring father. He describes himself as “Mr. Mom.” By the time his sons were in their teens, Dirk was basically raising them as a single father following Toni and his divorce in 1995.
In 1998, he discovered that he has a third son, John Talbert, from a previous relationship. Talbert, who was 30 by the time he met his father, was born in 1968 and put up for adoption without Dirk’s knowledge. With the help of his adoptive parents, John found and met both of his biological parents. Dirk was surprised and thrilled to meet him.
Dirk has had people say that he’s sacrificing his life for his sons, but he doesn’t see it that way. He, George and Roland lived in Bigfork, Montana, and the boys would visit their mother in LA for a few weeks every year.
All three of his sons even joined him on a cruise designed to let fans have their moment with Dir, a cruise which they repeated a few different times. While Benedict has never given up his dreams of being an actor and making movies, his family comes first. His sons are his best friends, and he says that fatherhood “deepens you.” He has said that cooking and raising children are the two highest art forms.
Dirk says he’s experienced and overcame a lot in his life, including falling hair, arthritis, acne, lower back pain, impotence, weight problems, excessive drinking problems, and of course, cancer. Fatherhood, however, is his greatest triumph. Besides being an actor, he is also a private pilot and a cigar connoisseur. He is still alive and thriving happily with his sons.
So while Dirk’s career might not be as thriving as it once was, it might be for a few very good reasons including his health, his disdain for Hollywood’s lack of originality and his dedication to being a father. Are you still a big Dirk Benedict fan? Comment below and tell us your favorite Kirk Benedict role, whether it’s Starbuck from Battlestar Galactica or something else! And don’t forget to like the video, subscribe to Facts Verse and activate the notification bell.