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The Incredible Inman: Robby Benson's dying turn in 'Proud' was middle-schooler's homework

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By David Inman
Sunday, Jan. 13, 2013, 8:53 p.m.

Question: In the early 1970s, our middle-school English teacher made us watch a TV movie for homework. It starred Robby Benson, and it was about a young man dying. I can't remember the title of the movie, but I do recall that a sixth-grader ended up with the nickname of Benson's character: Gunther. Do you remember this movie? And whatever happened to Robby Benson?

Answer: Well, first off, what you saw was the 1975 movie “Death Be Not Proud,” based on the true story of Johnny Gunther, son of journalist John Gunther, who died of a brain tumor. This was during Benson's phase of playing characters who died — 1976's “The Last of Mrs. Lincoln” and “Ode to Billy Joe,” 1977's “The Death of Richie,” etc.

As for Benson, he keeps busy these days providing cartoon voices, most notably that of the Beast, as in “Beauty and the.” He was the Beast in the original 1993 film and still provides the voice on cartoon shows and for video games.

Q: Is it true that Russell Crowe's voice was recorded over by another voice in “Les Miserables”?

A: Nope. Crowe did his own singing — in the past, he's sung on albums and with his band, 30 Odd Foot of Grunts.

Q: Can you tell me the name of the song and the artist played at the end of the Nov. 29 episode of “Person of Interest”?

A: The song is “One of These Mornings,” sung by Moby, featuring Patti LaBelle.

Q: I remember watching a movie as a child in the 1970s about a young man who accidental killed a young boy. Instead of going to the police, he and his mother decided to make a hidden room in their home for him to hide. Some time later, his mother passed away and someone else moved into the home. Any idea what this movie might be? If so, do you know if it's on DVD?

A: That's the 1974 TV movie “Bad Ronald,” with Scott Jacoby in the title role. When bad Ronald's mother (Kim Hunter) dies, bad Ronald's house is purchased by the Wood family, which includes dad Dabney Coleman, mom Pippa Scott and (uh oh) teen daughters Babs (Cindy Fisher), Althea (Cindy Eilbacher) and Ellen (Lisa Eilbacher). “Bad Ronald” is on DVD.

Q: I need your help in identifying a movie I saw on TV. It begins with two young college girls that are waitresses in a restaurant discussing their holiday. Rich girl invites the poor girl to her home. When the family settles down for bed, someone breaks in and massacres them all while poor girl hides under a bed, witnessing the whole thing. Poor girl gets out and hides in an RV that the murderer steals. The murderer is in law enforcement. He owns a compound that is surrounded by a security fence and numerous Dobermans. He kidnapped a little girl and is holding her hostage there. The poor girl decides to try to rescue the little girl. We have been trying to remember the title. Can you help us please?

A: That poor girl is indeed a poor girl. It's the 1997 TV movie “Intensity,” based on the novel by Dean R. Koontz. The cast includes John C. McGinley, Molly Parker and Piper Laurie.

Q: What's the name of the movie where Diana Ross is a bag lady?

A: Did they make a movie out of that? That's right, they did — it's the 1994 TV movie “Out of Darkness,” which also stars Beah Richards, Maura Tierney and Carl Lumbly.

Q: A simple yes or no answer will do fine— was Delta Burke ever one of “Barker's Beauties” on “The Price Is Right”?

A: I sense a lack of enthusiasm for snark on your part. Burke was never a Barker's Beauty. “No,” in other words.

Q: Sometime in the late 1960s, Glenn Ford was in a TV series where he was a lawman out west. Can you tell me the title and whether it's on video?

A: “Cade's County” is the series, and it ran on CBS from 1971 to '72. Ford played county sheriff Sam Cade, who kept law and order in sprawling Madrid County somewhere in the American Southwest. Edgar Buchanan (Uncle Joe on “Petticoat Junction”) was his sidekick, J.J. Jackson.

Ford was one of several movie stars who came to TV in the early 1970s as the star of a series. Others included Shirley MacLaine, Jimmy Stewart, Anthony Quinn and Henry Fonda, and hardly any of the shows lasted more than one season.

Some “Cade's County” episodes were on video, but now are out of print.

Write David Inman in care of The (Louisville, Ky.) Courier-Journal, 525 W. Broadway, P.O. Box 740031, Louisville, KY 40201-7431; or email him at Questions of general interest will be answered; personal replies are not possible.

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