Actor Robby Benson initially followed Oscar winner Rod Steiger's advice and kept news of his heart problems a secret due to fears his poor health might ruin his career.

Benson, who voices the titular male role in Disney classic Beauty and the Beast, was born with an organ valve defect, which forced him to undergo four risky open-heart surgery procedures over the course of his career, dating back to 1984.

But the 56 year old battled the medical condition in private after receiving a warning from his The Chosen co-star Steiger, who reportedly had a hard time finding work after suffering heart complications in 1979.

Opening up about his crisis in his new memoir I'm Not Dead...Yet!, he writes, "During filming, Mr. Steiger confided in me how the industry treated him after his open-heart surgery.

"(He said), 'Never tell anyone if you've got heart problems, kid. Never.' If a director dies halfway through a movie, the studio will just replace the director. But if your star dies, you either shut it down or shoot it over. So studios don't want to hire anyone they perceive as being sick - especially with a heart condition."