Robert Guillaume, Emmy-winning star of ‘Benson,’ dies at 89

Robert Guillaume, voice of Rafiki, 'Benson' star, at premiere of The Lion King 3D26904759-159532

LOS ANGELES, CA – AUGUST 27: Actor Robert Guillaume arrives at the premiere of Walt Disney Studios’ “The Lion King 3D” at the El Capitan Theater on August 27, 2011 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Kevin Winter/Getty Images)

Robert Guillaume, the gravel-voiced and urbane actor who won Emmys for playing a sarcastic butler-turned-politician on two different sitcoms, died of complications from prostate cancer on Tuesday. He was 89.

“Donna Brown Guillaume is deeply saddened by the passing of her husband,” his wife said in a statement from his manager, adding that he died in their Los Angeles home.

Guillaume, whose quietly legendary career on stage and screen spanned decades, was best known for playing the wry, sharp-tongued Benson DuBois, first as a supporting player on the primetime soap opera parody “Soap” (1977-81) and later as the star of the ABC spin-off series “Benson” (1979-86), in which his character rose from butler to lieutenant governor.

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