While playing in "Guys and Dolls, 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".
Guillaume's many credits also include guest appearances on All in the Family, Good Times, Sanford and Son, The Jeffersons, 8 Simple Rules, and CSI.
Actor Robert Guillaume at the screening of the 25th anniversary retrospective of the television series Roots at the Academy of Television Arts and Sciences Jan. 15, 2002, in Los Angeles.
He starred in the ABC spinoff, Benson, which ran from 1979 to 1986 and had Benson as the wisecracking butler for the dim-witted governor.
Guillaume then lent his voice to the role of Rafiki in the children's movie "The Lion King".
Guillaume also portrayed abolitionist Frederick Douglass in the 1985 pre-Civil War miniseries North and South and managing editor Isaac Jaffe on the Aaron Sorkin-created TV show Sports Night.
He is survived by his wife Donna, one son, and three daughters.
Over the course of his career, he won two Emmys and four NAACP Image Awards.
"I was fortunate in the sense that the stroke I suffered was not so debilitating that I could not move around with some degree of regularity", he said in a 2008 interview. "I kept floundering about on the floor and I didn't know why I couldn't do it".
In accepting the Emmy, he joked, "I'd like to thank Bill Cosby for not being here", referring to the fact that the star of "The Cosby Show" and the leading contender for the award had earlier taken himself out of the running for it.
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