Robert Guillaume

Robert Guillaume
Los Angeles Times


Robert Guillaume
TV: North side of the 6600 block of Hollywood Boulevard
Born Robert Williams on Nov. 30, 1927 in St. Louis, MO

Robert Guillaume, the Emmy-winning actor who won fame playing a butler on the shows "Soap" and "Benson," came from humble beginnings.

"I'm a bastard, a Catholic, the son of a prostitute, and a product of the poorest slums of St. Louis," Guillaume wrote in his memoir. After a troubling and restless youth, the actor said he became St. Louis' first black streetcar driver, pursued a singing career, changed his name, performed in musical productions in Europe and on Broadway, then came to fame on television as a snarky servant.

In 1979, he won an Emmy for supporting actor in a comedy for his role as Benson in "Soap," then won another in 1985 for lead actor in a comedy for his title role in the spinoff "Benson."

He later married Donna Brown, a Harvard-trained KCBS-TV news producer, after a life of womanizing and not being there for his children. The actor's darker past is exposed in his 2002 memoir, "Guillaume: A Life."

Many other roles, including "Sports Night," "The Lion King" and a stage production of "Phantom of the Opera," have solidifed his status as a well-respected actor. He also has done voiceover work in animation and video games, winning a 2004 Interactive Achievement Award for male character performance for the game "Half-Life 2."

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