James Noble, who played dim governor on ‘Benson,’ has died

NEW YORK — James Noble, a Broadway-seasoned actor who appeared on soap operas and films like “10” and “Being There,” but perhaps was best known for playing the absent-minded governor to Robert Guillaume’s patient head of household in the 1980s sitcom “Benson,” has died in Connecticut. He was 94.

Noble died Monday at Norwalk Hospital after suffering a stroke, according to his daughter, Jessica Katherine Noble Cowan.

Born in Dallas, Noble studied acting under Lee Strasberg at the Actors Studio. His Broadway credits include “A Far Country,” “Strange Interlude,” “The Runner Stumbles” and, most notably, “1776.”

He also appeared in the movie version of “1776” with Blythe Danner and John Cullum, and played Bo Derek’s father in Blake Edwards’ hit film “10.”

Noble played Dr. Winters in the soap opera “The Doctors” and had roles in “One Life to Live” and “Another World.” From 1979-1986, he starred in “Benson,” a spin-off of “Soap” that saw Guillaume move from irreverent butler to manager of the home of Noble’s scatterbrained governor.

Nobel’s other TV credits include most of the hits of the 1970s and ’80s, including “Fantasy Island,” “Hart to Hart,” “Starsky and Hutch,” “The Love Boat” and “McCloud.”

He married actress Carolyn Coates, and the two appeared onstage together in a number of regional productions including “Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf” at the Williamstown Theatre Festival. His wife died in 2005.

After his years in Hollywood, Noble returned to Connecticut and his theatrical roots. He was an active member of the Theatre Artists Workshop since 1988.

At 85, he formed Open the Gate Pictures with his producing partner Colleen Murphy and made a short film “Glacier Bay.”