Tuesday, October 24, 2017

Robert Guillaume

My acting ability would have sent me back to the post office. It was my singing that got me jobs. Ironically, now, people think of me as an actor and don’t know me much as a singer.
Robert Guillaume
Robert Guillaume (born Robert Peter Williams
November 30, 1927 – October 24, 2017)
Robert Guillaume died today at his home in Los Angeles, California, from prostate cancer at the age of 89, a month before his 90th birthday.
Guillaume was born in St. LouisMissouri as Robert Williams. He studied at St. Louis University and Washington University and served in the United States Army before pursuing an acting career. He adopted the surname "Guillaume," French for William, as his stage name.
After 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. His other stage appearances included Golden BoyTambourines to GloryGuys and Dolls, for which he received a Tony Award nomination, Jacques Brel is Alive and Well and Living in Paris, and Purlie!. His additional roles included 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 was a member of the Robert de Cormier Singers, performing in concerts and on television. 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. In the sixties he was in Vienna, Austria at the Vienna Volksoper. Marcel Prawy engaged Robert Guillaume for the role of Sportin' Life in Porgy and Bess.

Later in his stage career, he was cast in the lead role in the Los Angeles production of The Phantom of the Opera replacing Michael Crawford.
Guillaume made several guest appearances on sitcoms, including Good TimesThe JeffersonsSanford and SonSaved 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 was on the ABC series Soap, playing Benson, a butler, from 1977 to 1979. 



Guillaume continued the role in a spin-off series, Benson, from 1979 until 1986. 

Guillaume also played Dr. Franklin in season 6, episode 8 ("Chain Letter") of the series All in the Family, which he coyly referenced Marcus Welby, M.D., a TV series in which he had guest-starred on in 1970.
In 1985, Guillaume appeared in the television mini-series North and South as abolitionist leader Fredrick Douglass, who escaped from slavery and became a leader of the anti-slavery movement prior to the American Civil War.


He also appeared as marriage counselor Edward Sawyer on The Robert Guillaume Show (1989),
Robert Guillaume and Donna Allen on The Robert Guillaume Show
Detective Bob Ballard on Pacific Station (1991–1992), and television executive Isaac Jaffe on Aaron Sorkin's short-lived but critically acclaimed 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.

His voice was employed for characters in television series Captain Planet and the PlaneteersFish Police, and Happily Ever After: Fairy Tales for Every Child. He was known for the voice of Rafiki in the movie The Lion King and its sequels and spin-offs. He voiced Mr. Thicknose in The Land Before Time VIII: The Big Freeze. He also supplied the voice for Eli Vance in the 2004 video game Half-Life 2 and its subsequent sequels.

Guillaume was married twice; first to Marlene Williams from 1955 to 1984; the couple had two sons together. He then married Donna Brown in 1986; the couple had a daughter. His son Jacques died on December 23, 1990, at the age of 33 due to complications of AIDS.
In 1999, Guillaume suffered a stroke while working on Sports Night at Walt Disney Studios in BurbankCalifornia. The stroke was minor, causing relatively slight damage and little effect on his speech. After six weeks in the hospital, he underwent a therapy of walks and sessions in the gym.


Good Night Mr. Guillaume

Stay Tuned

Tony Figueroa
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