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Thursday, October 26, 2017

Remembering Robert Guillaume 1927 - 2017

Actor Robert Guillaume, who died Tuesday at age 89, was the first African-American actor to win the Emmy Awards for Outstanding Supporting Actor in a Comedy Series (1979) and Outstanding Lead Actor in a Comedy Series (1985) for his role as Benson DuBois in the ABC sitcom, Soap, and its spin-off, Benson. Other television credits include the 1985 ABC miniseries, North and South, the 1989 ABC sitcom, The Robert Guillaume Show, the 1991-92 NBC sitcom, Pacific Station, the 1992 CBS animated series, Fish Police, the 1995-99 animated Disney series, The Lion King's Timon & Pumbaa, and the 1998-2000 ABC series, Sports Night.

He received a 1977 Tony Award nomination for Best Actor in a Musical for his performance as Nathan Detroit in Guys and Dolls. Other Broadway credits include Kwamina (1962), Purlie (1970-71, 1972-73) and Cyrano - The Musical (1994). In 1990, he replaced Michael Crawford as the Phantom in the Los Angeles production of The Phantom of the Opera.

Guillaume's feature film credits include Super Fly T.N.T. (1973), Seems Like Old Times (1980), Lean on Me (1989), The Meteor Man (1993), The Lion King (1994) as Rafiki, First Kid (1996), Spy Hard (1996) and Big Fish (2003). He won the 1995 Grammy Award for Best Spoken Word Album for Children for The Lion King Read-Along. And he received a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame in 1984.

Below I've selected some videos to celebrate Robert Guillaume's life and career.

Super Fly T.N.T. (1973)

The first episode of Soap, which aired on September 13, 1977

He left Soap in 1979 to star in Benson, which ran for seven seasons (1979-86). Below you can watch the Season 2 opening credits and a Christmas episode that aired on December 17, 1982

He was a guest on Sha Na Na in 1979.

He played an Angel on The Donna Summer Special that aired on ABC on January 27, 1980.

He was a guest on The John Davidson Show (with Gary Busey and June Havoc) on July 21, 1980.

He starred with Melba Moore and Sherman Hemsley in a television adaptation of Purlie, which premiered on Showtime on October 12, 1981.

He was the host of Saturday Night Live on March 19, 1983.

He was interviewed for the Archive of American Television on March 24, 1999 (click here to watch the entire interview).

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