BREAKING: Emmy Award Winning Black Actor DEAD…. Please Send Your Prayers

Dean James III% AMERICA’S FREEDOM FIGHTERS –

We are saddened to report Emmy Award-winning actor Robert Guillaume, best known as the title character in the TV sitcom “Benson,” has passed away died on Tuesday. He was 89 years old.

The St. Louis-born performer died at home in Los Angeles, according to his widow, Donna Brown Guillaume. He had been battling prostate cancer, she told The Associated Press.

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Variety reported that Guillaume often played acerbic, dry-witted, but ultimately lovable characters like the butler Benson Du Bois, which he created on the 1977 series “Soap,” before his character was spun off in 1979. Guillaume won Emmys both for “Soap” (as supporting actor) and “Benson” (as lead actor).

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He was also known as the the voice of Rafiki in “The Lion King,” for which he also won a Grammy for a spoken word recording.

“Benson” ran on ABC for seven years until 1986. The butler slowly evolved to become a government official, deflecting early complaints by critics like the Washington Post’s Tom Shales that his character was a “male Mammy.” The show brought Guillaume an Emmy in 1985 for lead actor in a comedy.

After suffering through a period of unemployment during the ’70s, he was cast in an all-black revival of “Guys and Dolls” as Nathan Detroit, which debuted on Broadway in 1977 and secured him a Tony nomination. He also guested during this period on sitcoms such as “All in the Family,” “Good Times,” “Sanford and Son” and “The Jeffersons,” which led to the supporting role of Benson in “Soap.”

In the late ’90s he took on the role of Isaac Jaffe, executive producer of a cable sports show on the ABC sitcom “Sports Night,” and continued to perform even after being felled by a stroke.

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He was featured in films such as “Meteor Man,” “First Kid” and “Spy Hard.” On television he appeared in the HBO family series “Happily Ever After” and TV movies and miniseries including “Children of the Dust,” “Run for the Dream” and “Pandora’s Clock.”

Fox News reports that among Guillaume’s achievements was playing Nathan Detroit in the first all-black version of “Guys and Dolls,” earning a Tony nomination in 1977. He became the first African-American to sing the title role of “Phantom of the Opera,” appearing with an all-white cast in Los Angeles.

But for God’s sake the white man is so evil and racist! 

He was asked to test for the role of an acerbic butler of a governor’s mansion in “Soap,” a primetime TV sitcom that satirized soap operas.

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The character became so popular that ABC was persuaded to launch a spinoff, simply called “Benson,” which lasted from 1979 to 1986. The series made Guillaume wealthy and famous, but he regretted that Benson’s wit had to be toned down to make him more appealing as the lead star.

“The minute I saw the script, I knew I had a live one,” he recalled in 2001. “Every role was written against type, especially Benson, who wasn’t subservient to anyone. To me, Benson was the revenge for all those stereotyped guys who looked like Benson in the ’40s and ’50s (movies) and had to keep their mouths shut.”

Yeah, I didn’t look at the racism aspect of the show but I thought it was funny as hell.

“I always wanted kids of any background to understand the characters I’ve portrayed were real,” he is quoted as saying on his official website. “That the solutions they found were true and possible. It has always been important to me to stress that there was no diminution of power or universality just because my characters are African-American.”

This rang true in his portrayal of Benson, who The Hollywood Reporter notes began life as a butler/cook and went on to be the state budget director and, finally, lieutenant governor. He even ran for governor, but the race was never decided as the show went off the air.

He is survived by his second wife, TV producer Donna Brown Guillaume; one son (another died in 1990); and three daughters.

Rest in peace brother and thanks for the memories.

TOGETHER WE WILL MAKE AMERICA GREAT AGAIN!

Dean James III% AMERICA’S FREEDOM FIGHTERS

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