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Paul Benjamin, ‘Do The Right Thing’ Actor, Dies at 81

Benjamin also appeared in ”Across 110th Street,“ ”Escape From Alcatraz“ and ”The Station Agent“

Veteran character actor Paul Benjamin, best known for playing one of the three wise Brooklyn “cornermen” in “Do The Right Thing” and supporting roles in films such as “The Five Heartbeats,”  has passed away at 81. Benjamin died June 28, filmmaker Spike Lee announced on Instagram.  No other details about Benjamin’s death were made available.

“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,” wrote Lee. “Rest In Paradise. Born 1/1/38. Died 6/28/19.”

Benjamin also appeared in “Across 110th Street,” “Escape From Alcatraz” and “The Station Agent.”

“I am so sad to hear about the passing of Paul Benjamin,” wrote filmmaker Robert Townsend on his Twitter account. “He was a brilliant actor and I had the pleasure to work with him on THE FIVE HEARTBEATS he played Eddie’s father. My prayers go out to his family at this time. Rest in paradise King.”

The youngest of twelve children, Benjamin was born in Pelion, South Carolina to a Baptist preacher. Benjamin moved to New York to study acting and soon made his film debut in “Midnight Cowboy (1969).”

Benjamin’s other film credits include  “Some Kind of Hero” (1982) opposite Richard Pryor,  Clint Eastwood’s “Pink Cadillac” (1989), Bill Duke’s “Hoodlum” (1997), and John Singleton’s “Rosewood” (1997).

On television, Benjamin had guest-starring roles on “In the Heat of the Night,” “Law & Order,” “The Shield.” He portrayed homeless man Al Ervin in the “ER” pilot, which led to a recurring role over the next few seasons.