‘Benson’ star Robert Guillaume dies at 89

Actor Robert Guillaume, seen here at the premiere of "Big Fish" in 2003, died following complications with prostate cancer in his Los Angeles home on Tuesday at the age of 89. Photo by Laura Cavanaugh

Oct. 24 (UPI) — Actor Robert Guillaume, Emmy-winning star of the ABC sitcom Benson, died at his home in California on Tuesday at the age of 89.

The actor’s wife Donna Guillaume said he died while sleeping in his Los Angeles home following complications of prostate cancer, which he battled in recent years, CNN reported.

“He kinda went the way everyone wishes they could, surrounded by love and in his sleep,” she said.

She added that her husband, a baritone, enjoyed making music as well as entertaining and making people laugh and treasured his role as Rafiki in Disney‘s 1994 animated film The Lion King.

“He was a good father and a good husband. He was a great, great person,” she said.

Guillaume was born Robert Peter Williams on Nov. 30, 1927, in St. Louis, Mo. and appeared in various musical theater acts before appearing on television.

He was most known for his role as the sardonic butler Benson DuBois in the sitcom Soap from 1977 to 1981 as well as the character’s spin-off show Benson from 1979 to 1986.

Guillaume went on to star as Isaac Jaffe, the managing editor of a ESPN-style news program, in the Aaron Sorkin series Sports Night from 1998 to 2000.

He also made guest appearances on shows, including The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air, and appeared in films such as Lean on Me in 1989 and 2003’s Big Fish.

Throughout his career Guillaume earned two Emmy Awards for portraying his roles in Soap and Benson, a Grammy for his narration on The Lion King Read Along and four N.A.A.C.P. Image Awards.

Guillaume is survived by his wife, three daughters, Patricia Carpenter and Melissa and Rachel Guillaume; one son, Kevin; four grandchildren, five great-grandchildren and one great-great-granddaughter.


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