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 Robert Guillaume

Robert Guillaume

Saint Louis, St. Louis City, Missouri, USA
Death 24 Oct 2017 (aged 89)
Los Angeles, Los Angeles County, California, USA
Burial Cremated, Ashes given to family or friend
Memorial ID 184579519 · View Source
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American Actor. Born Robert Peter Williams, he will best be remembered for his role as the acerbic, dry-witted butler, Benson Du Bois, on the 1977 series 'Soap', then as the title character on 1979 spin-off TV series 'Benson', which ran for seven seasons and earned him an Emmy Award. He joined the Army in 1945 and was discharged 15 months later. While studying nights at St. Louis University, he originally intended to study business but became interested in singing and transferred to Washington University to study voice and theater, before changing his name. He moved to New York and made his Broadway debut in a 1960 revival of 'Finian’s Rainbow' and found regular employment in the chorus of several Broadway productions. In 1972, he took on the title roles in a couple of musicals and appeared in several revues. In 1977, he was cast in the all-black revival of 'Guys and Dolls' which earned him a Tony nomination. During this period, he appeared on sitcoms such as 'All in the Family', 'Good Times', 'Sanford and Son' and 'The Jeffersons' which led to the supporting role of Benson in 'Soap', follwed by his starring role in 'Benson'. After 'Benson' ended, he starred in TV movie 'John Grin’s Christmas', a black retelling of 'A Christmas Carol' that was also his directorial debut. In 1989, he starred in another sitcom, 'The Robert Guillaume Show', playing a marriage counselor, but the series lasted four months before the network cancelled the series. In 1990, he returned to the stage in the Los Angeles production of 'Phantom of the Opera' and on Broadway in the lead role of 'Cyrano — The Musical' in 1993. He also performed regularly in concert. Among films he appeared in were 'Meteor Man', 'First Kid' and 'Spy Hard'. His other TV appearances included 'Happily Ever After', 'Children of the Dust', 'Run for the Dream' and 'Pandora’s Clock'. In 1999, while starring in 'Sports Night, he suffered a stroke and was inactive for several months. When he returned to the show, his illness was worked into the story line until the series ended its run the following year. During the 2000s, he made a few guest appearances on a few more TV shows, including '8 Simple Rules' and 'CSI', but opted to work more heavily on voice overs. Known as the the voice of Rafiki in 'The Lion King', he won a Grammy Award for his role. Guillaume, who would go on to appear in several more films and TV roles, died after a lengthy battle with prostate cancer.

Bio by: Louis du Mort

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  • Maintained by: Find A Grave
  • Originally Created by: Louis du Mort
  • Added: 24 Oct 2017
  • Find A Grave Memorial 184579519
  • Find A Grave, database and images ( : accessed ), memorial page for Robert Guillaume (30 Nov 1927–24 Oct 2017), Find A Grave Memorial no. 184579519, ; Maintained by Find A Grave Cremated, Ashes given to family or friend.