Benjamin Hendrickson (August 26, 1950 – July 3, 2006) was an American actor known for playing Harold "Hal" Munson, Jr., the Chief of Detectives for the mythical town of Oakdale on the daytime soap opera As the World Turns.
Theater and film
Hendrickson was born in Huntington, New York. He studied at the prestigious Juilliard School as part of the institution's first drama division class and was a founding member of John Houseman's The Acting Company.
Prior to his television appearances, Hendrickson acted in theatre. From 1973 to 1984, he appeared in a host of productions that included The Elephant Man (taking over the title part in 1981 after serving as David Bowie's understudy), Awake and Sing and Strider.
Hendrickson also acted in feature films. He originated the role of Frederick Chilton, Hannibal Lecter's pompous, incompetent psychiatrist, in the 1986 film Manhunter; the part was later played by Anthony Heald in the Silence of the Lambs (1991) and Red Dragon (2002) and Raúl Esparza in the TV series Hannibal (2013-2015). Hendrickson's other credits include Dreams Don't Die (1982), Russkies (1987), Regarding Henry (1991), Consenting Adults (1992) and Spanking the Monkey (1994).
Hendrickson made appearances on daytime television in the early 1980s; his credits included Another World, Texas, and a notable role on Guiding Light as the villainous Silas Crocker. Years later, he also appeared as a judge on Boston Legal.
He played Hal for over 20 years, from October 1985 to September 2004 and from June 2005 to July 2006. Hal was initially a short-term role, but as Hendrickson joked, when he "impregnated the leading lady" (the character of Margo, then played by Hillary B. Smith), he signed a contract with a longer term.
Hendrickson won the Daytime Emmy Award for Outstanding Supporting Actor for playing Hal in 2003. During his acceptance speech, he honored his source of moral support with a joke: "To my mother, who scrimped and saved to send me to Juilliard to study the classics... I'm sorry."
Since daytime soap operas follow tape-ahead shooting schedules, Hendrickson's final scenes on As the World Turns were broadcast July 12, 2006, nine days after his death. The July 12 episode featured a brief dedication at the end alerting viewers to his death.