Dirk Benedict had such success in the 1980’s that you often forget that you haven’t seen him in much recently.
He got into acting accidentally, accepting a dare in college to try out for a production of SHOWBOAT. He got the part, and continued with it.
Dirk made his film debut in a 1972 film called GEORGIA, GEORGIA (which was written by Maya Angelou) and starring in the killer snake film SSSSSSS.
He quickly moved into starring in a network series, CHOPPER ONE, a series about a helicopter that ran on ABC for one season in 1974.
There were supporting roles in TV series like HAWAII FIVE O and CHARLIE’S ANGELS before the role that some still know him best as.
Starbuck on the original BATTLESTAR GALACTICA. Who could forget him as the wisecracking, cigar chomping pilot.
What I still have trouble realizing is that the show, while very popular if you were a certain age, only lasted 21 episodes, from 1978 to 1979. With all the toys I bought you would have thought I could have financed another season.
There were a few more films, SCAVENGER HUNT which seemed to always be on cable in the early days. He starred in FOLLOW THAT CAR and UNDERGROUND ACES.
In 1981, he made a film called RUCKUS with Ben Johnson and Linda Blair. A favorite of mine on cable, this told pretty much the same story as Stallone’s FIRST BLOOD about a Viet Nam vet returning home and taking on an entire town. Only, it was made before. (NOTE: I was just surprised to find out the DVD of RUCKUS is now out of print and going for $175 on Amazon. Worth looking for as it contains a great commentary with the director, Dirk and Blair).
Dirk starred in a few more TV movies and episodic guest starring roles until 1983 when he got another of his iconic roles.
THE A-TEAM where he played FACE. Those fans of his who remembered him as Starbuck were now able to see him in another role, making him a favorite actor for many.
This series ran from 1983 to 1987, longer than GALACTICA. But it would also prove to be one of the last major roles of his career.
Most of his following work consisted of more guest stints on shows (from BAYWATCH and THE COMMISH to MURDER SHE WROTE and WALKER TEXAS RANGER). He starred in a few films (most notably 1996’s ALASKA), but most of them had little if any release.
So What Ever Happened To Him?
Dirk’s behind the scenes life seems to have been even more interesting than his feature film roles.
In 1974 he was diagnosed with prostate cancer. Rather than doing the treatment the doctor suggested, he switched to a macrobiotic diet that was introduced to him by Gloria Swanson, who he was starring in a Broadway production of BUTTERFLIES ARE FREE with. He claims that this cured the cancer.
Dirk has written two books. CONFESSIONS OF A KAMIKAZE COWBOY tells the story of his career and macriobotic diet. The second, AND THEN WE WENT FISHING, is a more personal family story.
He also hasn’t finished his work on the screen. He wrote and directed the 2001 film CAHOOTS (starring Keith Carradine, David Keith, Wendie Malick and Janet Gunn). It doesn’t appear that the film made it out of the film festival circuit as it isn’t on DVD.
He appeared in this very funny 2006 YouTube in video as himself:
And while it didn’t air in the US, he appeared on the 2007 UK version of CELEBRITY BIG BROTHER, sharing the house with Jermaine Jackson among others. He came in third.
So, he has kept busy over the years. While his film work hasn’t quite gotten the exposure that his earlier work did, it is good to see he is still out there.
EDIT 5-18-10: In a 2010 interview, Dirk claimed that no one took him seriously after THE A-TEAM. Despite having fun making it, the show was thought of as "stupid" and none of the cast members really got much work after.
Instead, he concentrated on being a father full time, raising his kids in Montana.
Today, he is on stage in the UK.