Childhood & Early Life
Dirk was born Dirk Niewoehner, on March 1, 1945, in Helena, Montana. His father, George Edward Niewoehner, was a lawyer, and his mother, Priscilla Mella (née Metzger), worked as an accountant. Dirk grew up with his older brother, Roy, and his younger sister, Ramona.
Dirk earned his BFA from 'Whitman College,' Walla Walla, Washington. He is a member of the 'Phi Delta Theta' fraternity. Dirk is of German descent.
Dirk was 12 when he suffered a permanent partial hearing loss in his left ear, after a firearm mishap that took place when he was out hunting. He had briefly worked as a gravedigger in his teens.
Dirk’s first acting project came in his freshman year, after he accepted a dare to audition for the spring musical. He surprisingly got the lead role of ‘Gaylord Ravenal’ in his college play 'Showboat.'
In 1968, Dirk became a member of the 'Meadowbrook Theatre,' Rochester, for a year. After graduation, he joined a 2-year training program under the mentorship of John Fernald, former head of London's 'Royal Academy of Dramatic Arts.' Dirk had also participated in repertory theater in Seattle and the 'Ann Arbor Repertory Theatre' in Arbor, Michigan. With ‘Ann,’ Dirk has played several roles, including the lead in 'The Star-Spangled Girl.'
Dirk had an interest in music, too, and was also part of a Dixieland jazz band in Seattle. However, before his band could make its debut, Dirk ventured into acting and never looked back. After meeting an agent in New York, Dirk was cast in the play 'Abelard and Heloise.' After the show was closed, Dirk flew to Sweden for his debut film.
Before Dirk started his career, he wanted a catchy stage name. His agent suggested "Benedict," inspired by the American breakfast dish Eggs Benedict.
Continue Reading Below
Dirk began his acting career with the 1972 psychological thriller 'Georgia, Georgia.' After completing the film, Dirk replaced Keir Dullea in the ‘Broadway’ play 'Butterflies Are Free.' While the show was staged in Hawaii, Dirk made a guest appearance in the 'CBS' police-procedural drama 'Hawaii Five-O.'
Dirk’s performance in 'Hawaii Five-O' earned him the lead role (‘David Blake’) in the 1973 horror 'Sssssss.' His next project was the 1974 psychological thriller 'W.' The same year, Dirk appeared in his first main TV role, as ‘Officer Gil Foley’ in the short-lived 'ABC' drama 'Chopper One.'
In the subsequent years, Dirk focused on writing. He moved back to Montana, where he wrote a couple of scripts. His only appearance during that period was in the TV film 'Journey from Darkness.' Dirk made his comeback in 1977, with an episode of the 'ABC' crime drama 'Charlie's Angels.' He again appeared on the show the following year, but played a different character.
Dirk rose to prominence with the 'ABC' science-fiction series 'Battlestar Galactica,' in which he had the main role, ‘Lieutenant Starbuck.’ He reprised the role in its movie version, released in 1978. Dirk continued playing the character in 1980, when the series was revived as 'Galactica 1980.' Simultaneously, he starred in a bunch of films, such as the 1979 comedy 'Scavenger Hunt,' the 1980 TV movie 'The Georgia Peaches,' the 1980 thriller 'Ruckus,' and the 1981 film 'Underground Aces.'
Dirk’s next significant TV project was the 'NBC' action–adventure project 'The A-Team.' He was cast as ‘Lt. Templeton “Faceman” Peck,’ one of the four leads on the show. Dirk played the character in 96 episodes, from 1983 to 1987. Following 'The A-Team,' Dirk mostly made guest appearances on several TV shows. However, he remained active in the film industry and was cast in a few theater productions, too.
In 1986, Dirk appeared in one of the lead roles (‘M. Harry Smilac’) in the comedy 'Body Slam.' The following year, he played the titular role in Shakespeare’s 'Hamlet,' staged at the 'Abbey Theatre' (also known as the 'Classic Stage Company Theatre’), New York City. Following this, Dirk starred in the 1991 Italian action–thriller 'Blue Tornado.' He assisted in writing an intimate scene featuring him and Patsy Kensit.
Dirk has written two books about his life, namely, 'And Then We Went Fishing: A Story of Fatherhood, Fate and Forgiveness' (1993) and 'Confessions of a Kamikaze Cowboy: A True Story of Discovery, Acting, Health, Illness, Recovery, and Life' (1991). He made his directorial debut in 1994, with the short 'Christina's Dream.'
In 1997, Dirk lent his voice to the character ‘Antharia Jack’ in the video game 'Zork: Grand Inquisitor.' He also wrote and directed the 2001 short 'Cahoots,' which premiered at the 'Victoria Film Festival' in Vancouver. He has also voiced his 'Battlestar Galactica' character in its video game version.
In the following years, Dirk was on a career break and was busy raising his sons. He made a comeback in 2006, with the German film 'Goldene Zeiten' ('Strike!'). In 2007, he participated in the reality TV show 'Celebrity Big Brother' in Britain and ended in the third position. He made a cameo as ‘Pensacola Prisoner Milt’ in the 2010 film version of 'The A-Team.'
Family & Personal Life
In 1974, Dirk was diagnosed with prostate cancer. His doctors recommended surgery. He, however, did not opt for surgery and cured his cancer through a macrobiotic diet instead, which he still follows.
Dirk married actor Toni Hudson in 1986. They divorced in 1995. He was granted the custody of his two sons from Toni, George (born in 1988) and Roland (born in 1991).
Dirk has another son, John Talbert, from a previous relationship. He did not know about him until John’s foster family contacted him.
On 'Celebrity Big Brother,' Dirk once revealed a dark experience from his childhood. He said that he was 18 when his parents got divorced. His abusive father was barred by the court to meet the family. However, his father suddenly returned one day and began beating his mother brutally in her bedroom. As a preventive measure, Dirk’s brother shot and killed his father.
The court gave Dirk's brother a clean chit, and he now lives in a forest lodge near the lakeside town of Bigfork, Montana, working as a carpenter.