Vale: Robert Guillaume
Veteran US actor, best known for Benson and Soap, has died.
Veteran US actor Robert Guillaume, best known for Benson and Soap, has died aged 89.
He died in Los Angeles after battling prostate cancer.
Guillaume played wisecracking butler Benson DuBois in Soap from 1977-80, ahead of the spinoff, Benson, which ran from 1979 to 1986.
Benson‘s personal arc went from butler / cook to state budget director and finally to lieutenant governor. He even ran for governor against his former boss, Eugene X. Gatling (James Noble).
Other TV credits included Sanford and Son, The Jeffersons, Julia, Marcus Welby M.D., All in the Family, Good Times, The Love Boat, L.A. Law, Diagnosis Murder, Touched by an Angel and 8 Simple Rules for Dating My Teenage Daughter.
His films included The Kid From Left Field, Seems Like Old Times, The Lion King, Lean on Me, Death Warrant, The Meteor Man, First Kid, Spy Hard and Big Fish.
Guillaume was also an accomplished stage performer, earning a 1977 Tony nomination for his performance of Nathan Detroit in Guys and Dolls, and performing in Phantom of the Opera.
He was born in St. Louis as Robert Peter Williams but took the name Guillaume, a French version of Williams, when he became a performer.
“When I got the role of Benson, I was not the happiest camper,” he said in 2016. “I had reservations, because you’re serving food, you’re serving the family and all that sort of thing. … It’s like nothing has changed since the 1800s.
“But the more I examined the role and read the script, I figured out a way to take some of the stench off the idea.”