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Robert Guillaume – MovieActors.com

Guillaume in BENSON.
About Robert Guillaume (1927 – 2017)
Bob Guillaume was born as Robert Peter Williams in St. Louis, Missouri on November 30, 1927. An Emmy Award winner for his role in the television sitcom Soap and Benson. He also was a star in he Los Angeles production of the smash hit musical Phantom Of The Opera. Bob Guillaume is now one of the most respected and recognized talents in the entertainment business.

Guillaume grew up during a difficult era in U.S. history, The Great Depression in the 1930s. When Robert was only a toddler his alcoholic mother turned over the care of her four young children to their grandmother. The father had abandoned them early on.

Robert's grandmother provided for the youngsters as best she could on the wages she earned as a laundress at a Catholic rectory. "The sum total of my grandmother," Guillaume told the Boston Globe, "can be measured in the fact that she took me and three of my sisters and brothers into her family in the middle of the Great Depression. She taught us that we could pull together. It was an enormous task of love, dedication, and devotion."

Robert Guillaume left school to join the U.S. Army in 1945 and 15 months later resigned with an honorable discharge. After his brief stint in the army, Guillaume finished high school and tried a number of odd jobs to save money for college. He ran a women's clothing store, worked in the post office, was employed as a candy cook, washed dishes, and drove a St. Louis street car.

Guillaume's long time dream of becoming a professional singer began to take form when his talent captured the attention of Hungarian opera tenor and artist-in-residence Laslo Chabay. He joined the Karamu Players in Cleveland and began performing in musical comedies and opera. He made his Broadway debut in Kwamina in 1961. Other stage appearances included Golden Boy, Tambourines To Glory, Guys And Dolls, for which he was nominated for a Tony Award. Other stage performances include Jacques Brel and Well And Living In Paris.

Robert ventured into television making 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 spin-off series, Benson, from 1979 until 1986. 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 won an Outstanding Supporting Actor - Comedy Series prime time Emmy Award in 1979 for the series Soap, and an Outstanding Lead Comedy Actor prime time 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.

In 1999, Guillaume suffered a stroke while working on Sports Night at Walt Disney Studios in Burbank, California. The stroke was minor, causing relatively slight damage and little effect on his speech. After six weeks in the hospital, he underwent rehabilitation, which involved walks and sessions in the gym.

He died of prostate cancer on October 24, 2017, at his home in Los Angeles, California, less than a month before his 90th birthday.

Robert Guillaume's notable movie credits include...

Seems Like Old Times (1980)
The Kid with the Broken Halo (1982)
The Kid with the 200 I.Q. (1983)
Wanted Dead or Alive (1987)
Lean on Me (1989)
Death Warrant (1990)
The Meteor Man (1993)
First Kid (1996)
The 13th Child: Legend of the Jersey Devil (2002)
Unchained Memories (2003)
Big Fish (2003)
The Secrets of Jonathan Sperry (2008)
Columbus Circle (2010)

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Robert Guillaume with Charles Grodin in Seems Like Old Times (1980).