Two-time Emmy winner Larry Drake, who portrayed the mentally-challenged Benny Stulwicz on NBC’s hit drama series L.A. Law, passed away today at the age of 66. While no cause of death was given, TMZ reports that the actor did have recent health problems pertaining to his weight, but his health issues weren’t thought to be terminal. The actor was found in his Hollywood, California home by a friend at approximately 1:30 PM today.
Larry Drake was born on February 21, 1950 to Lorraine, a homemaker, and Raymond Drake, a drafting engineer for an oil company, in Tulsa, Oklahoma. He graduated from the University of Oklahoma and originally wanted to be a teacher before studying acting. He landed a variety of small roles throughout the 1970s and 1980s in movies like Date with a Kidnapper and The Karate Kid, and TV shows such as Hardcastle and McCormick and Hunter. In 1987, he landed the role of Benny Stulwicz, a mentally-handicapped office worker on NBC’s hit drama series L.A. Law.
The actor won back-to-back Emmy Awards in 1988 and 1989 for his role as Benny, and he was also nominated in 1990, along with scoring three Golden Globe nominations. He appeared in 144 episodes of the series between 1987 and 1994, when the show went off the air after eight seasons. His role on L.A. Law also lead to a variety of feature film work, including Darkman, Bean, American Pie 2, and Spun. He also lent his voice to a number of animated shows such as Johnny Bravo, Justice League and What’s New, Scooby-Doo?.
His most infamous role came in 1992, when he played the slasher Doctor Evan Rendell. While he has a strong body of work behind him, to horror fans, he will always be remembered as Dr. Giggles! Sadly, there never was a sequel. Hardcore horror fans will remember that he played Bubba Ritter in what some consider the best made-for-TV movie of all-time, Dark Night of the Scarecrow. And who can forget his performance as Santa in the Tales from the Cryptkeeper episode And All Through the House, which debuted in 1989?
He hasn’t acted since the 2009 movie Dead Air, a year when he also lent his voice to Kazdan Paratus in the video game, Star Wars: The Force Unleashed. The TMZ report reveals that he had recently been working as an acting coach. The actor was married to Ruth de Sosa from 1989 to 1991, and he remarried horror writer Marina Drujko briefly in 2009 before they divorced.
We’ll keep you posted if a cause of death is determined in the near future, so stay tuned for more information. Will you be honoring the late Larry Drake by watching L.A. Law or Darkman tonight? Or do you have another favorite Larry Drake performance? Let us know what you think below.