Robert Guillaume, ‘Benson’ Star and Voice of Rafiki in ‘Lion King,’ Dies at 89

Two-time Emmy-winning actor also appeared on “Soap” and “Sports Night”

Two-time Emmy winner Robert Guillaume died Tuesday in Los Angeles after battling prostate cancer, wife Donna Brown Guillaume told the Associated Press. He was 89.

The St. Louis native was known for playing Benson DuBois on “Soap” and its spinoff “Benson.” The actor won two Emmy Awards for his portrayal  of the character, one in 1979 for “Soap” and and another in 1985 for “Benson.”

More recently, he played Isaac Jaffe on the Aaron Sorkin-created ABC series “Sports Night.”

Guillaume had a varied film career, which included voicing wise mandrill Rafiki in “The Lion King” and its sequels and TV series. He appeared in such movies as “Lean on Me” (1989), “First Kid” (1996) and “Big Fish” (2003).

His stage roles included being the first African-American to perform the title character “Phantom of the Opera.” He earned a Tony nomination in 1977 for his part in the first all-black version of “Guys and Dolls.”