Actor Robert Guillaume, who won two Emmy Awards for his amazing portrayal of the butler Benson on two ABC sitcoms, passed away on Tuesday at 89. According to his wife, Donna Brown Guillaume, he died in his Los Angeles home surrounded by friends and family. He sadly lost the years-long battle with prostate cancer. Guillaume also starred on the stage as he was a baritone. Apart from this, he is also known for voicing the wise Rafiki in Disney’s The Lion King. He voiced the same character in all of the movie’s sequels, TV series and video games.
Guillaume was one of those actors who went beyond those racial stereotypes and played extremely different roles. On ABC’s Sports Night, he played Isaac Jaffe, who was the managing director of a news program that resembled ESPN. Actually, while he was on the set of this show, back in 1999, he suffered a stroke.
Robert Guillaume has died
During a 2008 interview, the actor opened up about that incident and said that he was lucky the stroke wasn’t debilitating. Then, his wife came up with the idea to also make his character have a stroke. So, when he came back, he didn’t have to pretend. He played family retainer Benson DuBois in three seasons of Soap, and then in Benson, a spinoff series.
In an episode of Oprah, Guillaume revealed that he wasn’t the happiest when he got the role of Benson. He had his reservations but in time, when he read the script, he managed to change some things about that perception of serving food.
In 1979, he won the Emmy for supporting comedy actor. In 1985, he won an Emmy again for outstanding actor in a comedy. He was actually the only black man to win in that category. He also won a Grammy award for his vocals as Rafiki on an album for children.
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