From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia. Paul Benjamin (born 1938) is an American actor. Benjamin was born in Pelion, South Carolina. He made his film debut in 1969 as a bartender in Midnight Cowboy. After a small role in Sidney Lumets The Anderson Tapes, he did extensive television work in the 1970s. A few notable exceptions were a major role in Barry Shears Across 110th Street, and smaller parts in Gordon Parks biopic Leadbelly, Arthur Marks Friday Foster, and Don Siegels prison film Escape from Alcatraz. He gave exceptional performances in the TV adaptations of I Know Why The Caged Bird Sings and Gideons Trumpet. He later starred in the HBO movie The Man Who Broke 1,000 Chains, based on the novel by Robert E. Burns. On the big screen in the 1990s, Benjamin worked with some well known directors. He appeared in Spike Lees Do The Right Thing, Robert Townsends The Five Heartbeats, Bill Dukes Hoodlum, and John Singletons Rosewood. On television, he appeared in the 1994 pilot episode of ER, which led to his recurring role of homeless man Al Ervin during the next few seasons.