Richardo Augustus ‘Dickie’ Benson was born on the 25th of December 1942 in the street hawking town of Bury St Edmunds, during a harrowing air raid by the Luftwaffe. Dickie’s mother, Athenoula Florentina Benson, headmistress and professor of theatre at the prestigious ‘St. Swithun’s Academy for Wayward Girls’, was safely consoling some members of the local gentry in the wine cellar of the sports hall. To keep up spirits, she cajoled some of her pupils into putting on a rendition of ‘The Nativity’. Heavily pregnant and, ever the method actress, she took on the role of Mary. As the Town hall above crumbled under the force of a 2kg butterfly bomb explosion, Athenoula’s waters broke; Dickie exploded into life and was immediately catapulted across the stage at the pinnacle moment of the play, to a resounding cowering ovation. The night was later known as ‘The Greatest Story Ever Told… In Bury St. Edmunds’. Dickie’s Father, Rear Admiral Reginald Richard Benson, was M.I.A. at the time.
“I was a tearaway. I had trouble written all over me, in Biro, as a punishment for my ‘inquisitive penis’. I was the only male pupil ever to be enrolled at St. Swithin’s. It was the fifties and the school was often approached by elderly conservative gentlemen looking for virgins to sacrifice and I would frequently be employed to remove them with Gusto. Gusto was Nan-Nan’s Rottweiler.”Sir Dickie Benson
Dickie appeared in many school plays eventually writing, directing and starring in his own controversial adaptation of ‘The Passion Plays’ for the ‘Bury St Edmunds Players’, the town’s Amateur Dramatics society. He was immediately noticed by Sir John Gielgud who, having initially employed him as his dresser, soon realised Dickie had other skills, quickly promoting him to Chief-Enforcer; many a happy day was spent knocking out sailors with a sock full of awards. Sir John made the necessary introductions for Dickie to attend RADA. Unfortunately, Dickie was expelled for his avant-garde performance ‘Nudist/Hubris’ inspired by ‘The Living Theatre’ a group he had seen whilst holidaying in New York. After the shock of his dismissal, Dickie briefly changed direction and began to practice the art of ‘Greco-Roman Wrestling’, gaining some notoriety amongst fans and winning two world championship Golden Jock-straps. He soon realised, however, that his desire to tread the boards was unbridled and made a triumphant return to acting in his feature film debut, 1962’s ‘Go-Go Girls of the Galapagos’, directed by Michael Winner.
“I played the charismatic wizard Mallachi, leader of a dangerous cult of go-go girl assassins opposite Richard Chamberlain’s shipwrecked naval commander. It was absolute tripe but we filmed on location and Michael (Winner) is a hoot. We spent most of our time off our faces on chartreuse at the underground turtle races.”Sir Dickie Benson, Empire Magazine, July 1992.
He was made a knight of the realm for his services to the theatre by Elizabeth II in 1991.
Dickie has appeared in over a hundred films, countless plays and numerous works on television. Amongst the many, many accolades Sir Dickie has received are Three Academy Awards (Best Actor: ‘The Elegance of the Epicurean Eunuch‘, 1979, ‘Romancing Rhodesia‘, 1986, and Best Supporting Actor: ‘L’Apprenti Fromager/The Cheese Makers Apprentice’, 1993) a Tony (‘Sweet Christ’ 2013), an Olivier (‘Shakespeare: the Bard, Bared’ 2008), a Grammy (‘A Knight on the Tiles: The Audiobook‘, 2018) and a Documentary Award (‘On Tip-Toes as Dream Walkers: A Spiritual guide to Astral Projection’, 2011) from The American Society of Cinematographers, making him an EGOAT. He has also received ten Academy Award nominations and won the World Roman-Greco Wrestling Championship in 1967 and 1969.
His directorial debut, ‘Life Androgynous’ 2003, received a forty-two minute standing ovation at Cannes.