Robert Guillaume — best known for his ’80s hit TV show, “Benson” — died Tuesday at his L.A. home from complications of prostate cancer … according to his wife, Donna.

Robert Guillaume, who rose from squalid beginnings in St. Louis slums to become a star in stage musicals and win Emmy Awards for his portrayal of the sharp-tongued butler in the TV sitcoms “Soap” and “Benson,” has died at age 89.

Guillaume won the Emmy for lead actor in a comedy for playing sarcastic, wise-cracking butler, Benson DuBois, on the hit ABC show. “Benson” was a spin-off from “Soap.” He won a supporting actor Emmy for that show.

He was also the voice of Rafiki on Disney’s “The Lion King” — and Isaac Jaffe on Aaron Sorkin’s “Sports Night.”
Robert Peter Williams was born in St. Louis, Mo., changing his name only after he decided on a career in acting.

After completing his schooling he joined the Army in 1945 and was discharged 15 months later.

He took on a number of menial jobs while studying nights at St. Louis U. He originally intended to study business but became interested in singing and transferred to Washington U. to study voice and theater.

He is survived by his second wife, TV producer Donna Brown Guillaume; one son (another died in 1990); and three daughter


Alex D.

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