Ben was born in Caulfield, Melbourne, the only child of an upper middle class Jewish family. His parents had come to Australia in the early 1950's, changing their original surname from Greenberg to Green. His father, Isaac, was a wholesale jeweller and died when Ben was 15 years old. His mother, Rachel, was the stereotypical Jewish mother and frequently called Ben to nag him. He studied Veterinary Science at Melbourne University.
He was very soft-hearted and could never bring himself to put down pets discarded by their former owners so he accumulated quite a menagerie. His neighbours in Melbourne got together a petition suggesting he leave the district so in October 1985
, at the age of 28, he moved to Wandin Valley. Unfortunately, through the shady dealings of his accountant, the house he thought he'd bought in Wandin Valley (dubbed Camelot by Ben because it's former owner was named Arthur) was in fact jointly owned by him and another person, Kelly Shanahan
. They agreed to share the house and when Kelly returned to Sydney in May 1986
, she sold her half of the house to Ben.
Ben liked to sing to his animals and practiced "alternative" medicine, including acupuncture, hypnosis, and herbal remedies. He had a special interest in Australian marsupials. His menagerie of animals grew to include Bernie (a St. Bernard) and Cuddles (a black diamond python). He loved classical music, especially the works of Wolfgang Mozart.
When he first arrived in the Valley, Judy Loveday
became romantically interested in him but he was oblivious to her attentions. Peter Manning
and his sister, Donna
, moved in with Ben when they returned to the Valley and a special friendship developed between Ben and Donna. When she was killed in a car crash in August 1987
while arranging a Mozart party for him, he couldn't bear to be in Camelot any longer and sold it to Terence
Ultimately, he moved to New York with his childhood sweetheart, Barbara Gottlieb, in March 1988