Emmy Award-winning actor Robert Guillaume, best known as the title character in the TV sitcom “Benson,” died Tuesday. He was 89.
His wife Donna Brown Guillaume told the Associated Press he died at their Los Angeles home of complications of prostate cancer.
Guillaume often played acerbic, dry-witted, but ultimately lovable characters like the butler BensonDu Bois, which he created on the 1977 series “Soap,” before his character was spun off in 1979. Guillaume won Emmys both for “Soap” (as supporting actor) and “Benson” (as lead actor).
He was also known as the the voice of Rafiki in “The Lion King,” for which he also won a Grammy for a spoken word recording.
“Benson” ran on ABC for seven years until 1986. The butler slowly evolved to become a government official, deflecting early complaints by critics. The show brought Guillaume an Emmy in 1985 for lead actor in a comedy.