Actor Robert Guillaume died in his Los Angeles home on Tuesday at age 89 after a battle with prostate cancer.
Guillaume, who won two Emmys and has a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame, was known for his role as the sharp-tongued butler on “Soap” and its spinoff, “Benson.” He also voiced Rafiki in “The Lion King.” He earned a Tony nomination for playing Nathan Detroit in the first all-black version of “Guys and Dolls” in 1977 and was the first African-American to star as the Phantom with an all-white cast in “Phantom of the Opera.”
Celebrities were quick to mourn Guillaume’s death. Actor Sterling K. Brown said in a statement, “St. Louis’ finest. He may not have called himself the HNIC (see ‘Lean on Me’), so I’ll have to do it for him. RIP, sir. Thank you for paving the way.”
His “Sports Night” co-star Josh Malina tweeted, “R.I.P. Robert Guillaume. Saw him play Nathan Detroit on Broadway in 1976. Made me want to be an actor. It was a thrill to work w him on SN.”
R.I.P. Robert Guillaume. Saw him play Nathan Detroit on Broadway in 1976. Made me want to be an actor. It was a thrill to work w him on SN.
— (((Josh Seasonal))) (@JoshMalina) October 24, 2017
Ava DuVernay wrote on Twitter “Giant of stage + screen. Also let’s remember that Robert Guillaume was among the first celebs to appear at AIDS fundraisers. Thank you, sir.”
Giant of stage + screen. Also let's remember that Robert Guillaume was among the first celebs to appear at AIDS fundraisers. Thank you, sir. pic.twitter.com/Zu1klgGAV3
— Ava DuVernay (@ava) October 24, 2017
“Robert Guillaume radiated such warmth, light, dignity, and above all, class. That smile and laugh touched us all. RIP to the best boss ever,” Josh Charles wrote.
Robert Guillaume radiated such warmth, light, dignity, and above all, class. That smile and laugh touched us all. RIP to the best boss ever.
— Josh Charles (@MrJoshCharles) October 24, 2017
Read other reactions below.
— Josh Gad (@joshgad) October 24, 2017
RIP Robert Guillaume….he was the first Phantom of the Opera I ever saw when it came to Los Angeles. Great actor.
— josh groban (@joshgroban) October 24, 2017
Emmy-winning 'Benson' actor & the voice of Rafiki in 'The Lion King' – Robert Guillaume R.I.P. pic.twitter.com/LvvIHGBvOa
— Tammy (@tksb15) October 24, 2017
The stroke he suffered during Sports Night was written into the show. This was his return.
RIP Robert Guillaume pic.twitter.com/eURutArNo8
— Kevin T. Porter (@KevinTPorter) October 24, 2017
The great Robert Guillaume has died at 89. "Sports Night" is one of my all-time favorite shows and Isaac Jaffe is a dream boss pic.twitter.com/6ACUqzmhoQ
— Jarett Wieselman (@JarettSays) October 24, 2017
RIP to EmmyAward winning Army vet, star of stage & screen, Robert Guillaume. 1st black actor to play the title role in Phantom of the Opera pic.twitter.com/WA2aezsfQz
— jesse Williams. (@iJesseWilliams) October 24, 2017