Paul Benedict, Jeffersons Neighbor & Sesame Street Painter, Found Dead

Character actor Paul Benedict, best known for playing Mr. Bentley on The Jeffersons, dead at 70

By Natalie Finn Dec 04, 2008 11:27 PMTags

George Jefferson didn't welcome Mr. Harry Bentley into his home with open arms, but the good-natured Brit was always on hand anyway, usually for a good laugh.

Paul Benedict, the American actor who was often mistaken for British thanks to his role as George and Louise's neighbor on The Jeffersons, was found dead Monday at his home on Martha's Vineyard. He was 70. The cause of death is under investigation, according to Benedict's brother, Charles.

The New Mexico native, while best known for his nearly 10-year run as Bentley, was also an Obie Award-winning theater director, as well as a prolific character actor.

Gen-Xers may recognize him as the bowler-capped Number Painter from Sesame Street, who started popping up in random places to decorate his surroundings with a big white numeral in 1972.

Notable film appearances include the 1977 Oscar winner The Goodbye Girl, The Freshman, This Is Spinal Tap and The Addams Family. He was also memorably mistaken for Broadway critic Mort Guffman in Christopher Guest's cult-classic comedy Waiting for Guffman.