Benson star dies at 89 | Robert Guillaume had prostate cancer

Benson star dies at 89

Robert Guillaume had prostate cancer

 Robert Guillaume, who starred in the US sitcom Benson, has died in Los Angeles at the age of 89.

 His wife Donna said he had suffered prostate cancer in recent years. 

Born into poverty in St Louis, where he was raised by an alcoholic mother, Guillaume joined the Army, but was granted an honourable discharge

He started his performing career on stage, eventually playing Nathan Detroit in the first all-black version of Guys and Dolls, earning him Tony nomination in 1977, and becoming the first African American to take the title role in The Phantom of the Opera.

But his fame spread to TV audiences in 1977 when he was on the spoof Soap, where his character of the contemptuous butler Benson proved so popular he was given his own spin-off sitcom.

In Benson, his character became the head of household affairs for a state governor, and it ran for seven seasons and 158 episodes from 1979 to 1986. Guillaume won an Emmy for his role in 1985.

A raft of other TV roles followed, including spots on A Different World, The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air and Sports Night. He also voiced Rafiki in the movie The Lion King and its sequels

Guillaume is survived by four children. Another son, Jacques, died in 1990, at the age of 33 due to complications of AIDS.

Published: 25 Oct 2017

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