Acadamy Award-winner Robert Benton was raised in Waxahachie, Texas, earned his BFA degree from the University of Texas and moved to New York for his Master’s at Columbia University. He went to work at Esquire magazine as the assistant to the art director before being drafted into the Army, where he was stationed at Fort Bliss, TX.
Benton returned to Esquire after his discharge from the service and was soon promoted to art director. While at Esquire he co-authored The In and Out Book with Harvey Schmidt. In 1966, his first screenplay Bonnie and Clyde (1967), co-written with David Newman, went into production with Arthur Penn directing. That same year, the Benton-Newman musical It’s a Bird. It’s a Plane. It’s Superman! opened on Broadway.
The success of Bonnie and Clyde resulted in a contract with Warner Bros., for whom Benton and Newman first scripted There Was a Crooked Man (1970), which Joseph Mankiewicz directed, as well as What’s Up, Doc? (1972) directed by Peter Bogdanovich. Benton then made his directorial debut with Bad Company (1972), co-written with Newman and starring Jeff Bridges. He then wrote and directed The Late Show (1977) starring Art Carney and Lily Tomlin.
In 1978, Benton re-teamed with Newman and Newman’s wife Leslie to create the screenplay for the box-office hit Superman (1978) starring Christopher Reeve, Marlon Brando and Margot Kidder. His next project, KRAMER VS. KRAMER (1979), starring Dustin Hoffman and Meryl Streep, won the Best Picture Academy Award and earned Benton two Oscars for Best Screenplay and Best Director.
Benton’s career includes such films as Still of the Night (1982), Nadine (1987), PLACES IN THE HEART (1984, which earned him an Oscar for Best Original Screenplay) and Billy Bathgate (1991) based on the novel by E.L. Doctorow. He also directed Nobody’s Fool (1994), which he adapted from the novel by Richard Russo and for which was nominated for an Academy Award for Adapted Screenplay. He went on to direct Twilight (1998) which he co-wrote with Richard Russo. He then directed The Human Stain (2003). He also co-wrote Ice Harvest (2005) with Richard Russo and directed Feast of Love (2007).