Robert Guillaume is a two-time Emmy award-winner, known to savvy primetime audiences as Sports Night’s Isaac Jaffe and Benson’s Benson. Kids know the sound of his beloved voice as the soothsaying cadence of Rafiki, the mystical baboon in Disney's animated feature, The Lion King, and Lion King II, Simba's Pride.
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The debonair, legendary actor, who has also been nominated for numerous Golden Globe, SAG and Image awards, appears as a guest star on Touched By An Angel in an episode titled, "Jones vs. God." In this wonderful episode, he portrays Judge Dawes as Monica and Tess face a small mining town that is accusing god of inflicting emotional stress.
The talented Broadway actor first informed Hollywood of his arrival when he portrayed a self-assured, intelligent butler named Benson in the hysterical, tongue-and-cheek prime time series of the eighties, Soap. While Benson's scene-stealing carried the show, Robert Guillaume carried home an Emmy for his work as "Best Supporting Actor in a Comedy."
The articulate and handsome thespian went on to star in the spin-off titled after his popular character, Benson. In the spin-off he played a lieutenant governor and garnered another Emmy with accolades from his peers, this time for “Best Lead Actor in a Comedy Series.”
Robert Guillaume is an actor who continually helps to defy stereotypes. Early in his career, his commanding theatrical presence brought the actor a 1977 Tony nomination for his portrayal of Nathan Detroit in Guys and Dolls, with an all black cast. On Benson, Guillaume insisted his character be equal. He turned out to be the character with the most savoir-faire and brilliance.
Later in his career, as star of The Robert Guillaume Show, which he also executive produced, he portrayed a marriage counselor married to a white secretary. With his powerful singing voice, Guillaume replaced Michael Crawford in the Los Angeles production of Phantom of the Opera making him the first black actor in history to star in the role.
The actor's long list of television and film credits also include: North and South, Crystal Cave: Lessons From The Teachings of Merlin, Pandora's Clock, Meteor Man, Death Warrant, Lean on Me, Perry Mason and Superfly T.N.T. A few of his many guest starring roles include: LA Law, Diagnosis Murder, The Jefferson's, Sanford & Son, Burke's Law, and Fresh Prince of Bel-Air.
Among his accomplishments, Guillaume produced with his wife, Donna Brown Guillaume, You Must Remember This for PBS and Happily Ever After for HBO, a group of ethnically diverse fairy tales that he narrated.
In the summer of 1992 Robert Guillaume, while a commencement speaker at Tennessee State University was presented with the "Distinguished Achievement Award." Reportedly he told the new graduates, "Do not use any facet of yourself that you perceive as a handicap as an excuse...be prepared to go over, through and around." The actor has done just that.
Now in his seventies, after Guillaume suffered a mild stoke in 1999, he returned to work after just a few weeks, a clear indication of his courage and strength of spirit. Aaron Sorkin, creator of Sports Night had the event written into his character's storyline. When Robert Guillaume stepped onto the Emmy telecast stage that same year as a presenter, he received a standing ovation from the audience. By all accounts, Robert Guillaume's contribution to the field of entertainment is invaluable.
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