Recollections of the ECCC Pt. 4 Dirk Benedict

Battlestar Galactica was one of my favorite shows when I was young. It never bothered me to see that same poor Ceylon get blown up in every space battle. I loved the crew, the adventures and the ships. I also loved The A-Team when I was a teen. The common thread and the characters I loved best in each were played by Dirk Benedict. So when I heard he was going to be at the Emerald City Comic Con I was delighted.

Dirk Benedict kind of dropped off the face of the Earth after the A-Team and unlike so many other celebrities I follow there wasn’t much I knew about him. I’ll admit to feeling a bit of trepidation about meeting him in his autograph line and dragging everyone to hear him speak at his panel discussion. I wondered if he would be one of those stars who are so full of themselves they are disagreeable. Although I should have known better. I have never met a star at a con who wasn’t gracious and open and just lovely.

I waited in line for a few minutes to meet Dirk Benedict and of course said the stupidest fan girl thing, which I’m sure is just what he wanted to hear from a middle aged overweight chick but he was so kind and gracious I didn’t get embarrassed until later. Of course I said, “I had a crush on you way back in the day.” What a moronic thing to say. Bless his heart he just smiled and sad, “but you got over it, right?” And just because I never do anything half way, even being an idiot, and I didn’t want to hurt his feelings I said, “not really.”
At the same time Natalia Tena of Harry Potter fame was signing autographs and my daughter really wanted one. Sadly I had to tell her that I had spent all of my money on Dirk Benedict. She got in line anyway to shake hands with Natalia Tena and when we got up there my daughter explained that we couldn’t get an autograph but she wanted to say hi and shake her hand. Well Natalia Tena grabbed a post-it note and wrote down the name of her band and website for my daughter which totally made her day. Seriously, I’ve yet to meet a celebrity who wasn’t just as gracious and kind as can be at a Con.

From there we hurried over to find seats for his panel discussion and caught the end of Felecia Day and Will Wheaton’s discussion which I wrote about yesterday. They were awesome.

Then Dirk Benedict was introduced, preceded by a local military band playing the theme and reciting the intro for The A-Team. It was very cute. They gave him a cigar. This was the moment of truth, Dirk began to speak.

He told us about how he wound up divorced and raising his sons by himself. That’s where he’d been all these years. As a child my father abandoned me so I found this very touching. Not only did Dirk Benedict leave a career in acting to move to the backwaters of Montana to raise his children, you can tell by listening to him that he loves his sons and is so proud of them.

He talked about how his one son wanted to play football (soccer) in the UK because that’s where all the best teams are. He said that some people told him not to take his boy over there because it was just setting him up to fail. And Dirk told us that he took his son (who was not only very successful but a catalyst for a more healthy lifestyle for the other players) to try out because even if he failed, the seeds of success are sown in failure. You can’t have success if you never fail, he told us.

He’s just a lovely, lovely human being.

Then he told us how he got into acting. He said back in college he was in a band and one day they were walking past the theatre, which in the country culture they were in was this mysterious place where strange perhaps sinister things happened. Kind of like a house of I’ll repute, he said of their perceptions at the time. There was a poster advertising try-outs for a musical and being college age guys it came about that he said he could go in there and one of the others dared him to go in and try-out for a part. He didn’t want to do it. But they said they’d give him $5.00 to go in and try out so he did.

He said he went in and he didn’t know what to expect and it was this dark room. He didn’t know if people would descend on him and whisk him off somewhere or what. So he went in and suddenly this voice out of the darkness asks if he has his instrument with him, and he says no. So the voice says, “that’s ok, just sing from one of the pieces here.” They hand him some sheet music. So he does and then he has to read some lines with another person. They thank him and he leaves, collects his $5.00 and forgets about the whole thing.

He continues the story saying that one day they saw the big wig amongst the theatre students walking across the campus and he never spoke to them because he was an actor and they were not. “Well he saw me,” Dirk said, “and started to detour over to them”. He walked right up to him and said, “congratulations.”

Dirk said he looked around to see who this guy might be talking to and it was him! He was wondering what was going on when the guy continued, “You go the lead.”

“What?” Dirk asked still not getting it.

“The lead for the play, you got it.”

“And that’s when I remembered that silly try-out.” Dirk told us, expressing his disbelief even to this day. “So I went over to the head of the theatre department and told him it was a big mistake and to give the part to someone else. They wouldn’t let me out of it. I had to do it. That’s how I got into acting.”

He said a lot of other things, wonderful things about the A-Team and how he liked the good hearted nature of Battlestar Galactic when he was on it. He doesn’t so much like the dark and almost nihilistic nature of the newer version and personally I have to agree with him. If I want to see the darkness in human nature I just look at things that are happening right now in our world. Things like human trafficking, the gang rapes in India and South Africa and Steubenville, Ohio. There is enough darkness in the real world. When I want entertainment I want something that has a goodness to it, something that speaks to hope.

Anyway I’ve nattered on for far too long and I hope you don’t mind, gentle reader. Tomorrow to top off my week of ECCC recollections I’m going to write about meeting Patrick Stewart and how I redeemed myself by asking him a great question. K.