Becoming A Man At 24
OBBY BENSON says The Passion of the Christ creator Mel Gibson is “a magnificent filmmaker with the tools to sway an audience. Any time you do work that reaches millions of people, it has a point of view. It’s up to Steven Spielberg to rectify the situation.”
We were talking at the Cherry Lane Theater where the actor is appearing in an original musical, Open Heart, with his wife Karla De Vito. She was born to a Catholic Italian family in a town near Chicago.
Robby says he wrote the show for his wife. (That’s one way to keep a 22-year marriage intact.)
They have two children: daughter Lyric, 20, a college student, and son Zephyr, 12.
“We taught our children every religion so as to understand the difference of right and wrong,” Robby says.
It remains to be seen whether Zephyr gets a bar mitzvah next year.
While growing up in Dallas, Robby didn’t get a bar mitzvah. His father became disenchanted with religion.
Robby didn’t “become a man” until 1980, when he was a 24-year-old actor filming Chaim Potok’s The Chosen in Brooklyn.
He was staying with a Lubavitcher family in Crown Heights to soak up the atmosphere for his screen role – the son of a rebbe portrayed by Rod Steiger.
When they learned he never had a bar mitzvah, they took him to shul. “I got called up to the Torah and said the blessings in Hebrew,” Robby recalled.