Emmy Award-winning actor Robert Guillaume, best known as the title character in the TV sitcom Benson, is dead. He was 89. Born Robert Peter Williams in 1927, he changed his name to Guillaume to make it more distinctive.
His wife Donna Guillaume said that he had battled prostate cancer in recent years. “He kinda went the way everyone wishes they could, surrounded by love and in his sleep,” Donna said.
She added that her husband really loved making music, entertaining and making people laugh. He treasured his role as Rafiki in Disney’s 1994 animated film The Lion King, she said.
Robert starred as the level-headed butler Benson DuBois on the sitcom Benson from 1979 – 1986. He won the Emmy for outstanding lead actor in a comedy for his performance in the role in 1985. Dozens of TV roles followed, including A Different World and Sports Night. One of the most prominent black actors on US Television, Guillaume won an Emmy for outstanding supporting actor in the comedy series Soap in 1979 and has the distinction of being the first black actor to win outstanding lead actor for Benson in 1985.
Guillaume’s distinctive voice earned him the title role in a 1990 production of Phantom of the Opera in Los Angeles.
He is survived by four children, all of whom had spent time visiting with their father in his final weeks, Donna said.
“He was a good father and a good husband. He was a great, great person,” she said.
Image Courtesy: ET Online