Larry Drake, who has died at age 66, was a great actor.
Back in the days when I saw no TV show before 9 or 10 p.m. because I was working on getting out a magazine—Cosby Show, what's that?—then no shows between 11 p.m. and 1 a.m. because I was working on a magazine, we always took a break to watch L.A. Law.
Ok, the sticker, "We break for Cheers," could also have been on the editorial team's bumpers, but generally sitcoms in the 8-9 p.m. time period were a wash.
Drake was brilliant as the mentally challenged Benny Stulwicz. His relationship with Corbin Bernsen, who played slick divorce lawyer Arnie Becker, was reminiscent of that between Lennie (I assume the name similarity was not a coincidence) and George in Of Mice and Men.
Drake played Lennie on stage and reportedly used that as a standard audition piece.
He won two Emmys and a legion of fans with his spot on, achingly sensitive, portrayal of Benny, a friend too good for the scheming Becker, but who ultimately helped make him at least a slightly better person for having known him.
Drake went on to make a forgetable movie or two, but his role in L.A. Law remains unforgettable.
Drake epitomized one of the drawing cards for NBC in the 1980s in shows like Hill Street Blues and L.A. Law, which was to pay as much attention to the casting of small parts as large, something the Brits have been doing for years and is now a staple of the best TV here as well.