Actor Robert Guillaume died Tuesday at his Los Angeles home, according to CNN. He was 89.
Guillaume was best known for his title role in the sitcom “Benson,” which ran from 1979-1986. He won the Emmy for Outstanding Lead Actor in a Comedy Series in 1985. He won his first Emmy for the role (as Outstanding Supporting Actor in a Comedy Series) in 1979 during his time on “Soap,” which preceded “Benson.”
His wife, Donna, told CNN that he battled prostate cancer in recent years. However, the official cause of death is unknown.
“He kinda went the way everyone wishes they could, surrounded by love and in his sleep,” she said.
Guillaume also voiced Rafiki in Disney’s 1994 animated film “The Lion King” and appeared in other TV shows such as “Good Times,” “A Different World” and “The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air.”
According to Playbill, Guillaume was also the first African American actor to play the Phantom in the seminal Broadway musical “The Phantom of the Opera.” He took over the role from actor Michael Crawford in the 1990 Los Angeles production.
He is survived by his wife and four children.