Benson made his film debut with an uncredited role in Wait Until Dark (1967) as the "Boy Tossing Ball" and his Broadway debut in The Rothschilds (1970). Benson had an early role on the daytime soap Search for Tomorrow (1971–72). As a film actor, Benson was well known for teenage roles in coming-of-age films, such as 1972's Jory, 1973's Jeremy, and as Billy Joe McAllister in 1976's Ode to Billy Joe.
He was listed as one of 12 "Promising New Actors of 1976" in John Willis' Screen World, Vol. 28. (1976) and auditioned for the role of Luke Skywalker in Star Wars (1977) but lost the role to Mark Hamill.
Benson was born with a heart defect which necessitated heart valve surgery in 1984 and 1998. He is an activist and fundraiser for heart research, which, in 2004, led him to write the book, lyrics and music for an original Off-Broadway play called Open Heart, in which he also starred.
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