Tue 24 Oct, 2017 04:07 pm
Robert Guillaume, Emmy-Winning Star of ‘Benson,’ Dies at 89
Robert Guillaume, who dreamed of being the first black tenor to sing at the Metropolitan Opera
but settled for acting onstage and on television — and won Emmy Awards for playing the same
character on two different ABC series — died on Tuesday at his home in Los Angeles. He was 89.
His wife, Donna Brown Guillaume, said the cause was complications of prostate cancer, which he
had had for 25 years.
Mr. Guillaume’s most well-known character was Benson DuBois, who began as a caustic butler on
the sitcom “Soap,” which ran from 1977 to 1981, and later worked for, and eventually campaigned
against, the governor of an unspecified state on the spinoff “Benson” (1979-86).
Mr. Guillaume grew up in poverty and spent years working odd jobs, from streetcar driver to postal
worker, with little hope that acting could become a career. The difficulties he overcame helped
inspire the character that made him famous, he said.
He seemed to be an affable man. Good actor. I watched Benson.
He was really great as Benson. That was about the extent of my knowledge.