He was the Leonardo DiCaprio of his day. Robby Benson starred in a string of hit coming of age movies in the 80's and made teenage girls swoon. Today, he is lucky to be alive, and he wants everyone to know he's not dead—yet, which is also the title of his new book.
Robby is not the least bit self conscious about the massive scar running the length of his chest. The 56-year-old actor climbed on a stool so our microphone could pick up the sound of his mechanical heart valve.
“Isn’t that magnificent? I mean they've given me life,” said Robby.
Robby was born with a congenital heart valve defect, but was advised to keep his condition a secret from his fans and the world.
“They always told me, 'If you have a heart problem, keep it to yourself. Never ever tell anyone, because it’s career suicide,'” said Robby.
At age 28, he was given devastating news. Robby said, “They said to me, 'We need to do your open heart surgery or else you may die.'"
Robby was newly married at the time to Karla DeVito. You may remember her as the singer who performed with Meatloaf. Thirty-five years later, they're still happily married.
“I love her so much,” Robby said of his wife.
Robby has now had four open heart surgeries. His exercise routine is remarkable. He even plunges into chilly water, and swims across a large lake near his home on Cape Cod.
“Nothing was going to stop him,” said Karla.
"It's a gift. It's a celbration. I'm alive," said Robby.
And something you may not know, Robby was the voice of the Beast in Beauty and the Beast.
He's just written his incredible story in an interactive book, the title, I'm Not Dead...Yet! certainly sums up his life.
“I’m probably one of the luckiest guys in the world,” said Robby.