Robby Benson has been married to his wife Karla DeVito for four decades, and even after so long, he still thinks she is the most amazing person he has ever met. She stood by him when he faced the most harrowing moments of his life. They have successfully raised two beautiful kids; today, they are proud grandparents.
Karla DeVito is more than a wife to actor and director Robby Benson. By his admission, she is his hero and the person that stood with him through the most challenging moments of his life.
It has been 40 years since the pair met, but their marriage remains one of the most admirable romances in Hollywood history. And yet, when they met, nothing was as far from DeVito’s mind as a romance.
The pair first crossed paths when they costarred on the 1982 “The Pirates of Penzance.” Benson, a loner, was going about his business as usual when the show’s producer Dan Berlinghoff paired him with DeVito to go to lunch.
Initially, DeVito did not give Benson much thought, but the two discovered they had the hots for each other soon after. She found he was a lovely and humble person and was drawn to how creative he was. Even so, falling in love was the last thing on her mind. She recalls:
“I was going on a nice, smooth course, and I wasn’t expecting to fall madly in love with anyone.”
They walked down the aisle on July 11, 1982, and when they sang the duet “Believe in Fate” at their wedding, there was no dry eye in the room.
The following year, they welcomed their first baby, daughter Lyric, then their son Zephyr in 1992. They refer to their meeting as destiny, and they are still going strong over four decades later.
Robby Benson’s Wife Stood by Him through His Health Struggles
Benson’s life could not have been more perfect. He was a heartthrob actor with a beautiful rocker wife and a physique many could only admire. Everything seemed to be in the right place — he was fit mentally and physically, even running the New York Marathon in just 3 hours and 5 minutes in 1983.
But a year later, then 28-year-old Benson began experiencing dizziness and losing consciousness. He had to undergo open heart surgery in October 1984 to replace a defective aortic valve.
That would be the first of several open heart surgeries he would have to have to correct his heart, which the surgeons did not even perform correctly. The bovine valve he got served well for more than 13 years, but in 2000, he had to undergo a second open-heart surgery.
The experience was traumatic! He remembers waking up in the ICU thinking that everything was wrong. He couldn’t breathe and was in excruciating pain. And the worst part, he could not tell his wife he was suffocating because his hands were tied!
He recalls trying to move his eyes back and forth so his wife could notice his tied hands, but that proved futile as his hands were tucked neatly under the white blanket. He says:
“I was helpless. In my mind, I was screaming: something is wrong. I CAN NOT BREATHE!”
The nurse made DeVito leave the room so Benson could have some quiet, but when she returned an hour later, she tried holding his hands only to discover they were tied.
She asked the nurse to untie her husband’s hands, but she refused. Even as more panic set in for Benson, he says he could not help thinking how funny the situation was. He recalls:
“The nurse was so sadistic and relished her cruelty so much it made for great comedy.”
Despite not breathing fine after that second surgery, his doctors dismissed it as being in his head, carelessly asking what he expected to feel after two open heart surgeries.
For the next six years, Benson struggled with breathing but was determined to leave the traumatizing ordeal behind him and continue making a living for his family as best he knew how.
Finally, in 2004, Benson underwent his third open-heart surgery to replace what the doctors initially thought was a narrow pulmonic valve, but which turned out to be an incorrectly sewn pulmonary nerve.
Robby Credits His Wife for Being Alive
During all the time he suffered from heart problems, Benson kept his troubles to himself, only confiding in his wife. He told his colleagues he was suffering from fatigue or indigestion. Speaking out about his heart problems would threaten his career, as he would later learn.
Benson says that actor Rod Seiger had sat him down and told him that no one was willing to hire a sick actor. He recalls the advice he got from Seiger:
“He said that if anything were to happen to my heart, to never let anyone know. It’s career suicide.”
During all those hard times, he could always count on one person to stand by his side — his wife. In addition to becoming his most significant support, she became his health advocate, and he credits his recovery to her:
“She helped me find doctors. She made sure I was getting the best treatment and the right medicine. I’m alive because of her.”
“She has walked me through everything and has been my advocate. Without her, I don’t think I would have been able to make it.” He praises his wife of many years.
Benson credits his wife for his recovery, saying she was instrumental in helping him regain his health. It is no wonder she has nothing but good to say about her.
During a sitdown with Smashing Interviews Magazines, Benson referred to his wife as “the most amazing human being [he] ever met in his life” and counts himself lucky to have married her:
“When we’re together, and we look into each other’s eyes, and we have one another, we can handle anything. Anything.”
Theirs have been a rough journey, with plenty of ups and downs, but they have managed to conquer it together. This July, they celebrated their 40th anniversary and continue to be just as incredibly in love as they were decades ago. In addition to raising two beautiful kids together, they are also doting grandparents!