RIP Larry Drake (Benny from L.A. Law)

Actor Larry Drake, aka Benny Stolowitz from “L.A. Law,” is dead at age 66.

Oddly enough, for me his most memorable scene was not doing that role, but as the villain in Sam Raimi’s “Darkman.” Drake’s character uses a cigar cutter in one scene to punish a disloyal subordinate, and he starts making points as cuts off fingers, something like, "One: never steal from me (SNIP), (2) Never lie to me (SNIP) … " and then he pauses and says, “Three: I have seven more points to make. (SNIP)”

One of the best movie sequences ever.

RIP Larry Drake.

He actually aimed when shooting at people!

That’s a shame, I always liked him. He was great in Darkman, and he voiced Pops, the diner owner, on Johnny Bravo. Also Sir Warwick Harrow in the Firefly episode, “Shindig.”

He was in a Star Trek episode or two, IIRC.

He also pretended to be Nero Wolfe in one episode of the show by that name, when someone threatened to kill Wolfe.

He turned out to be the man who made the threats.

He was in my favorite episode of ‘Tales from the Crypt.’ A young boy is adopted by a really weird rich couple. Later we find out that the couple are really vampires, and they plan to make a meal of the boy. Larry Drake played their servant. One night the couple decides that it’s feeding time, and then. . .

As they chase the boy around the premises, we see that the clouds are beginning to part, exposing a bright full moon. When the vampires catch up to the boy, and are preparing to chow down, the boy with his back to them, informs them that he, too, has a secret. As he turns around, he tells them that he is a werewolf—with an appetite for vampires!

I think he did the best he could with his portrayal of ‘Benny’ in ‘LA Law’. Definitely better than Rosie O’Donnell in that ‘Bus’ movie. [Egad!]

Don’t say his name three times, he might come back!

Loved Darkman and he’s great in it. Definitely the definitive role for him. Great choice by Sam Raimi and he was so good, they resurrected him for the cheap sequel. They had Larry Drake money, but not Liam Neeson money.

As a kid, I thought Darkman really was a comic book movie. I figured his villain in it was based on a pre-existing character. I was even more impressed to learn he took an original villain, only adequately written, and made him really awesome.

I’ve never seen LA Law. He played someone…mentally slow? And they had him on often? How? Why?

Yes, and that’s a great episode (as are they all). But he didn’t particularly shine for me there. I did like his delivery of, “Now you’ll have to rely on your charm and wit to get women … God help you.”

IIRC (it’s been a while since I watched L.A. Law), he was developmentally disabled and his mother had been a client of the law firm. When she died, he had nowhere to go, so the firm hired him as a file clerk. He did a good job, and the character was involved in the various stories about life at the firm. I also recall him having a developmentally disabled girlfriend at some point.

During L.A. Law’s run, I worked in an office that also had a disabled file clerk with similar capabilities. He even looked a little like Larry Drake. As in the show, we were all very fond of him and tried to make sure that he was taken care of. We were very upset when he was let go during a corporate downsizing, and I know that a number of executives tried to find him another position.

He played Benny, a tall, heavy mentally challenged man who lived with his mother. He was arrested for strong-arming a store owner for money – but Benny was just the pawn of his friend, who manipulated him into the attack by telling him that the store owner had stolen the money from the friend. The lawyers argue that Benny’s mental state doesn’t allow him to form the necessary intent for a criminal act.

After the win, Benny’s mother laments that she’s worried about what will happen after she dies, and is unable to support Benny…which leads to Benny being offered a job as the firm’s in-house messenger. He doesn’t drive, but knows how to use the bus system, and can handle simple tasks like “Give me ten copies of this stack of papers.”

Later storylines in which he was featured included the firm going to bat for him when he’s denied the right to register as a voter due to his mental challenges and his engagement to the daughter of a wealthy firm client who also mentally challenged.

Earned back-to-back Emmy wins for that role, even.

He was smart to never go full-retard.

I preferred his Robert G. Durant from Darkman, but I’m also fond of his turn as Doctor Giggles.

His portrayal of Benny was real enough that some people apparently thought the actor actually was “slow”. I seem to remember Drake telling a story about how a woman recognized him while he was getting into his car, or driving, something care related, and said to him “they let people like you drive?”

I remember that Tales From the Crypt episode too. I think the lady who ran the orphanage knew the boy;s secret, ot that something was dark about him. That’s why she was so anxious to let this oddball couple adopt him, telling him they would give him lots of sweet things to eat.

I’m slightly embarrassed to admit this, but I didn’t realize until this thread that he wasn’t. I apparently never saw him in any other role. He was completely believable as Benny, and one of the most memorable characters from that show.

Doctor Giggles is the first thing I think when I see him.