Robert Guillaume
Robert Guillaume
Robert Guillaume, who would later rise to stardom as Benson DuBois on Soap and Benson, appears as Albert Brock in "Steinberg and Son" in Season 5 of Sanford and Son'
Vital Information
Gender: Male
Birthname: Robert Peter Williams
Born: (1927-11-30)November 30, 1927
Birthplace: St. Louis, Missouri, U.S.
Died October 24, 2017(2017-10-24) (aged 89)
Deathplace: Los Angeles, California, U.S.
Actor, singer, narrator, voice artist
Years active: 1959–2014
Family/Personal information
Spouse(s): Marlene Williams (div. 1983)
Donna Brown-Guillaume (1984–2005)
Character/series involvement
Appeared on/
Involved with:
Sanford and Son in guest appearance
Episodes appeared in: "Steinberg and Son" in Season 5
Character(s) played: Albert Brock
Sanford and Son retro Wiki Script

Robert Guillaume (born Robert Peter Williams November 30, 1927 – October 24, 2017)[1] appeared as Albert Brock in the fifth season Sanford and Son episode titled "Steinberg and Son". He was an actor who was portrayed butler Benson DuBois on Soap and Benson in a 10-year period for the American Broadcasting Company. While most butler in the past were portrayed as being obedient Benson was a wisecracking person who usually got the best of the people who paid him. Guillaume was most known to children as the voice of Rafiki the Mandrill baboon in the animated The Lion King series. Guillaume is one of only two voice actors who has portrayed their character in EVERY animated medium (the other being Ernie Sabella as Pumbaa.)

Early lifeEdit

Guillaume was born Robert Peter Williams in St. Louis, Missouri on November 30, 1927. He studied at Saint Louis University and Washington University and served in the United States Army before pursuing an acting career.


Stage worksEdit

On leaving the university, Guillaume joined the Karamu Players in Cleveland and performed in musical comedies and opera. He toured the world in 1959 as a cast member of the Broadway musical Free and Easy. He made his Broadway debut in Kwamina in 1961. Other stage appearances included Golden Boy, Tambourines to Glory, Guys and Dolls, for which he received a Tony Award nomination,[2] Jacques Brel is Alive and Well and Living in Paris, the Los Angeles production of The Phantom of the Opera (succeeding Michael Crawford in the lead role), and Purlie!. Added roles were in Katherine Dunham's Bambouche and in Fly The Blackbird. In 1964, he portrayed Sportin' Life in a revival of Porgy and Bess at New York's City Center. Guillaume has been a member of the Robert de Cormier Singers, performing in concerts and on television. He has soloed on The Tonight Show. He recorded a LP record, Columbia CS9033, titled Just Arrived as a member of The Pilgrims, a folk trio, with Angeline Butler and Millard Williams.


Guillaume made several guest appearances on sitcoms, including Good Times, The Jeffersons, Sanford and Son, Saved By The Bell: The College Years and in the 1990s sitcoms The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air and A Different World. His series-regular debut began on the ABC series Soap, playing Benson, a butler, from 1977 to 1979. Guillaume continued the role in a spinoff series, Benson, from 1979 until 1986. Guillaume also played Dr. Franklin in Season 6 episode #8 titled "Chain Letter" in the series All in the Family.

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 ABC TV sitcom series Sports Night (1998–2000). Guillaume suffered a mild stroke on January 14, 1999, while filming an episode of the latter series. He recovered and his character was later also depicted as having had a stroke. He also made a guest appearance on 8 Simple Rules for Dating My Teenage Daughter.

Honors and awardsEdit

Guillaume won an Outstanding Supporting Actor - Comedy Series primetime Emmy Award in 1979 for the series Soap and an Outstanding Lead Comedy Actor primetime Emmy Award in 1985 for Benson. In 1995, Guillaume received a Grammy Award for Best Spoken Word Album for Children for his narrator role as Rafiki on The Lion King read-along book.[3] Guillaume has a star on the St. Louis Walk of Fame.[4]


On October 24, 2017, Guillaume died in his home in Los Angeles, California of prostate cancer at age 89.


  1. The almanac , United Press International, 2008-11-30, first accessed 2011-08-27.
  2. Ellen Hawkes (1992-05-24). "The Anger Sustained Me". Toledo Blade.,6581491&dq=robert-guillaume+tony&hl=en. Retrieved 2011-08-27. 
  3. Biography, accessed 2012-09-07.
  4. St. Louis Walk of Fame Inductees, St. Louis Walk of, accessed 25 April 2013.

External linksEdit