Remembering Robert Guillaume: From ‘Soap’ to ‘Sports Night’

Robert Guillaume passed away at the age of 89 Tuesday afternoon. Guillaume was part of ‘The Lion King,’ but before that, he was in beaming through your living room television set from 1977 to 1986 as Benson DuBois.

‘Soap’ aired from 1977 to 1979. In 1979 Guillaume became the first black actor to win an Emmy for Outstanding Supporting Actor in a Comedy or Comedy-Variety or Music Series.

“Sad to hear of the passing of Robert Guillaume. He was a great support to me on “Soap.” Great timing, charisma, and class. Rest in Peace,” Said Billy Crystal via Twitter.

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‘Benson’ aired from 1979 to 1986. In 1985 he would win another Emmy for Best Performance by an Actor in a Television Series – Comedy or Musical.

“I had some misgivings and trepidation that perhaps taking the role of a butler was not the greatest thing I could do. But I’d been in the business for 17 or 18 years, and not a hell of lot had happened. So I said, ‘I’d better get on this train,'” said Guillaume to NPR.

Guillaume’s most formidable moment on screen came in 1989 when he debated Morgan Freeman as Dr. Frank Napier in ‘Lean on Me.’

If you were a kid in the 90s, you might not have known his face, but you recognized Guillaume’s voice. Rafiki was brought to life in 1994 with Disney’s ‘The Lion King.’

In 1998, the world wasn’t quite ready for Aaron Sorkin’s ‘Sports Night,’ but Guillaume was giving speeches that we are only now starting to listen to. Guillaume played Isaac Jaffe, the Managing Editor of Sports Night.

Guillaume could make you laugh and think at the same time, and that’s what made him an extraordinary actor. He will be missed.

Matthew Sardo
Matthew Sardo
As the founder of Monkeys Fighting Robots, I'm currently training for my next job as an astronaut cowboy. Reformed hockey goon, comic book store owner, video store clerk, an extra in 'Transformers: Dark of the Moon,' 'Welcome Back Freshman,' and for one special day, I was a Ghostbuster.