"I'm sad to write that the great actor Paul Benjamin, who played ML, far left, passed this past Friday, two days before the 30th anniversary of 'Do the Right Thing.' Rest in Paradise," the director wrote.
In the 1990s and 2000s, he appeared in "The Five Heartbeats" and John Singleton's "Rosewood" as well as in indie favorite "The Station Agent." Benjamin also made guest appearances on "ER," "The Shield" and "Law and Order."
One of his memorable lines in the film came after Radio Raheem was killed, and ML said, "It is plain as day; they didn't have to kill the boy." In "Do the Right Thing," he played ML, who hangs out with Sweet Dick Willie and Coconut Sid under an umbrella on the street, commenting on the events of the neighborhood.
In Los Angeles, he wrote and performed in the play "Carrier," for which Paula Kelly won the NAACP acting award.” />
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Born in South Carolina, Benjamin started out doing Shakespeare on stage in New York, and made his film debut with a small role as a bartender in "Midnight Cowboy." He had a featured role in "Across 110th Street" in 1972, and appeared in Blaxploitation films like "The Education of Sonny Carson" and "Friday Foster" with Pam Grier.
Paul Benjamin, who played one of the men on the corner in Spike Lee's "Do the Right Thing," died June 28, Lee announced on Instagram.
Among his other appearances were in Richard Pryor comedy "Some Kind of Hero," Clint Eastwood starrer "Escape from Alcatraz" and Maya Angelou's "I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings."

Many members of the Cannes jury — including Cate Blanchett, Ava DuVernay, and Kristen Stewart — all walked the red carpet before the film. Christopher Nolan, who is in Cannes this year presenting a restored version of "2001: A Space Odyssey," was also in attendance.
IndieWire's Eric Kohn called it "electric" while the AP's Jack Coyle labeled it "Spike to the max." Formal reviews have yet to hit, but critics were quick to declare "BlacKkKlansman" to be Lee's best movie in years.
He was joined by cast members Washington, Driver, Grace, Damaris Lewis, Jasper Paakkonen, Laura Harrier, and Corey Hawkins. Lee walked the red carpet wearing brass knuckles from “Do the Right Thing,” which said “love” on one hand and “hate” on the other.
The movie, which tells the true story of an undercover African-American detective (John David Washington) and his Jewish partner (Adam Driver) who team up to infiltrate Klu Klux Klan in 1979, is incredibly timely. There are a lot of digs at the current president throughout “BlacKkKlansman" — one KKK member talks about embracing an "America first" policy and the film makes parallels between the rise of Trump and the political ambitions of former Grand Wizard David Duke (played with wide-eyed malevolence by "That '70s Show's" Topher Grace). It even ends with footage of Donald Trump refusing to condemn the actions of white nationalists during the deadly 2017 Charlottesville riot.
It’s been a slow Cannes, but “BlacKkKlansman” seems to be one of few breakout discoveries as the festival stumbles into its second week. Lee will surely be a strong contender for the Cannes best-director prize and he may even bag the Palme d’Or, the festival's top honor. If he does, it would be retribution after "Do the Right Thing" was infamously passed over for the award when it screened at the 1989 edition of Cannes.
“BlacKkKlansman” opens on Aug. 10, which is roughly a year after the Charlottesville riots left three people dead and 38 injured.” />
In it, Washington and Driver's characters team up to begin their infiltration of the KKK. Focus Features also released the trailer on Monday, in conjunction with the premiere.
Director Spike Lee received a six-minute standing ovation at the Cannes Film Festival after the Monday night premiere of his new drama “BlacKkKlansman.”