Emmy Award winning and Tony nominated actor Robert Guillaume died yesterday in Los Angeles at the age of 89 after battling prostate cancer.

Guillaume is probably best known for his role as butler Benson DuBois in the television shows Soap, and its spin-off Benson.  He also voiced Rafiki in The Lion King, and was also lauded for his performance in Phantom of the Opera where he was the first African-American to portray the titular role.

In 1999, Guillaume suffered a stroke while in his dressing room on the set of Sports Night.  In a 2008 interview, Guillaume said “I was fortunate in the sense that the stroke I suffered was not so debilitating that I could not move around with some degree of regularity.  My wife, Donna, suggested to Aaron [Sorkin] that perhaps we could incorporate the stroke into the series and he agreed … it allowed me to come back and not pretend that I had not had a stroke.”

Guillaume died peacefully in his home in Los Angeles.

Via People

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