Robert Guillaume — the Emmy-winning actor who starred as Benson Du Bois on the TV series “Soap” and “Benson” — passed away in his Los Angeles home after a battle with prostate cancer.
The beloved star — who was also nominated for a Tony for his 1977 turn on Broadway in “Guys and Dolls” — was an illegitimate child raised in poverty by his grandmother.
“I had several father figures while I was growing up because my mother had different boyfriends from time to time,” he recalled.
“But she didn’t live with my grandmother and me. She just sort of drifted in and out of our lives.”
Guillaume (seen above with “Benson” costar James Noble) still fought his way into the theatrical world, where his turn as Nathan Detroit in “Guys and Dolls” brought an invitation to audition for the controversial 1977 series “Soap.”
The controversial sitcom never quit soared in the ratings, but Guillaume’s quietly disdainful butler became a fan favorite, spinning him off to his own series in 1979.
The character of Benson Du Bois went from being a butler to a governor to a Lt. Governor — and eventually a gubernatorial candidate before the series ended in 1986.
From there, Guillaume worked steadily — and made a dramatic comeback after a 1996 heart attack while attending the funeral of model and actress Margeaux Hemingway.
He was back as a cast member on the the acclaimed sitcom “Sports Night” by 1998, but then suffered a debilitating stroke that was later written into the show. The star struggled to recover, and continued to work steadily until 2013.