Robert Guillaume, TV's "Benson," voice of Rafiki in "The Lion King" dead at 89

(PHOTO: Archive of American TV)

Robert Guillaume, who won Emmy Awards for his roles on "Soap" and "Benson," has died at age 89. Guillaume's widow Donna Brown Guillaume says the actor and singer died Tuesday morning in Los Angeles. She tells The Associated Press he had been battling prostate cancer. In addition to his television work, Robert Guillaume was the first African-American to sing the title role of "Phantom of the Opera," appearing with an all-white cast in Los Angeles. Guillaume rose to stardom after being born into squalid conditions in the slums of St. Louis in November 1927. He was nominated for a Tony Award in 1977 for his role in the first all-black version of "Guys and Dolls."

Guillaume also won a Grammy for his role as the voice of Rafiki in Disney's "The Lion King."

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