Robert Guillaume: Wikis


Note: Many of our articles have direct quotes from sources you can cite, within the Wikipedia article! This article doesn't yet, but we're working on it! See more info or our list of citable articles.


From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Robert Guillaume

Robert "Bob" Guillaume in 1980
Born Robert Peter Williams
November 30, 1927 (1927-11-30) (age 82)
St. Louis, Missouri,
United States
Occupation Actor
Years active 1959—present
Spouse(s) Marlene Williams (div. 1983)
Donna Brown Guillaume (1984–present)

Robert "Bob" Guillaume (born November 30, 1927) is an American stage and television actor, best known for his role as Benson Du Bois on the TV-series Soap and the spin-off Benson, voicing the mandrill Rafiki in The Lion King, as Isaac Jaffe on Sports Night, and as Eli Vance in the Half Life 2 series.


Early life

Bob Guillaume was born as Robert Peter Williams (Guillaume is the French form of William) in St. Louis, Missouri. He studied at St. Louis University and Washington University and served in the United States Army before pursuing an acting career.



On leaving University, Robert joined the Karamu Players in Cleveland and performed in musical comedies and opera. He toured the world in 1959 as a cast member of the Broadway musical Free and Easy. He made his Broadway debut in Kwamina in 1961. (A reference on a Columbia LP shows this as "Dwamina".) Other stage appearances included Golden Boy, Tambourines to Glory, Guys and Dolls, for which he was nominated for a Tony Award, Jacques Brel is Alive and Well and Living in Paris, the Los Angeles production of The Phantom of the Opera (succeeding Michael Crawford in the lead role), and Purlie!. Added roles were in Katherine Dunham's Bambouche and in Fly The Blackbird. In 1964 he portrayed Sportin' Life in a revival of Porgy and Bess at New York's City Center. Robert has been a member of the Robert de Cormier Singers, performing in concerts and on television. He has soloed on The Tonight Show. He recorded a LP record, Columbia CS9033, titled Just Arrived as a member of The Pilgrims, a folk trio, with Angeline Butler and Millard Williams.

Some minor controversy was stirred when Guillaume replaced Michael Crawford as The Phantom in the National tour of Phantom of the Opera.[citation needed] Guillaume is the first, and to date only, black actor to assume the role. No recording of his performance exists except for a brief excerpt captured on a Sunday Morning episode on CBS shortly after his debut.


Guillaume made several guest appearances on sitcoms, including Good Times, The Jeffersons and Sanford and Son, and in the 1990s sitcom The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air. His series-regular debut began on the ABC series Soap, playing Benson Du Bois, a butler, from 1977 to 1979. Guillaume continued the role in a spinoff series, Benson, from 1979 until 1986. Guillaume is an accomplished singer and several episodes of Benson provided Guillaume a storyline to sing.

He also appeared as marriage counselor Edward Sawyer on The Robert Guillaume Show (1989), Detective Bob Ballard on Pacific Station (1991), and television executive Isaac Jaffe on Aaron Sorkin's short-lived but critically acclaimed Sports Night (1998–2000). Guillaume suffered a mild stroke on January 14, 1999, while filming an episode of the latter series. He recovered and his character was later also depicted as having had a stroke. He also made a guest appearance on 8 Simple Rules for Dating My Teenage Daughter.

In the 1980s, Guillaume was a commercial pitchman for Ocean Spray, promoting its line of grapefruit juice. He also was the spokesman for Milk of Magnesia.


Guillaume has also appeared in a number of films:

His voice has also been used for characters in television series Captain Planet and the Planeteers, Fish Police, and Happily Ever After: Fairy Tales for Every Child and for the voice of Rafiki in the movie The Lion King and its sequels and spin-offs. He voiced Mr. Thicknose in The Land Before Time VIII: The Big Freeze. He also supplied the voice for Eli Vance in the 2004 video game Half-Life 2 and its subsequent sequels. He is featured in the 2009 movie The Secrets of Jonathan Sperry.

Honors and Awards

Guillaume won an Outstanding Supporting Actor - Comedy Series primetime Emmy Award in 1979 for the series Soap, and an Outstanding Lead Comedy Actor primetime Emmy Award in 1985 for the series Benson, making him to this day the only African American actor to win the Lead Comedy Actor award. Guillaume has a star on the St. Louis Walk of Fame.

External links

Got something to say? Make a comment.
Your name
Your email address