Robert Guillaume was born as Robert Peter Williams (Guillaume is the French form of William) in St. Louis, Missouri. He studied at St. Louis University and Washington University and served in the United States Army before pursuing an acting career.
On leaving the university, Robert joined the Karamu Players in Cleveland and performed in musical comedies and opera. He toured the world in 1959 as a cast member of the Broadway musical Free and Easy. He made his Broadway debut in Kwamina in 1961. (A reference on a Columbia LP shows this as "Dwamina".) Other stage appearances included Golden Boy, Tambourines to Glory, Guys and Dolls, for which he received a Tony Award nomination, Jacques Brel is Alive and Well and Living in Paris, the Los Angeles production of The Phantom of the Opera (succeeding Michael Crawford in the lead role), and Purlie!. Added roles were in Katherine Dunham's Bambouche and in Fly The Blackbird. In 1964 he portrayed Sportin' Life in a revival of Porgy and Bess at New York's City Center. Robert has been a member of the Robert de Cormier Singers, performing in concerts and on television. He has soloed on The Tonight Show. He recorded a LP record, Columbia CS9033, titled Just Arrived as a member of The Pilgrims, a folk trio, with Angeline Butler and Millard Williams.
Some minor controversy was stirred when Guillaume replaced Michael Crawford as The Phantom in the National tour of Phantom of the Opera. Guillaume is the first, and to date only, black actor to assume the role. No recording of his performance exists except for a brief excerpt captured on a Sunday Morning episode on CBS shortly after his debut.
|Donna Brown Guillaume||(1986 - present) 1 child|
|Marlene Williams||(1955 - 21 December 1984) (divorced) 2 children|
Gravelly, gregarious voice.
There was some controversy when he replaced the original Phantom (Michael Crawford) in Andrew Lloyd Webber's musical "The Phantom of the Opera". Some tickets were returned to protest his selection as lead actor even before his first performance. His run was none the less popular with audiences and critics.
Guillaume's stroke was paralleled in his TV series where his character, boss "Isaac Jaffe" also was shown to have suffered a stroke, and where he was also shown to be missed and idolized by his TV-staff colleagues.
Suffered a mild stroke on the set of his TV series "Sports Night" (1998). [14 January 1999]
One son died of AIDS in 1990 at age 32.
Daughter, Rachel, born 1990
Was once engaged to actress Fay Hauser.
Father of Kevin Guillaume
Biography in: "Who's Who in Comedy" by Ronald L. Smith, pg. 198. New York: Facts on File, 1992. ISBN 0816023387
Was nominated for Broadway's 1977 Tony Award a Best Actor (Musical) for a revival of "Guys and Dolls".
Guillaume was born as Robert Peter Williams (Guillaume is the French translation of William).
He was the producers first choice for the role of Tuvok on Star Trek: Voyager. The role eventually went to Tim Russ.
Along with James Garner, he was among the original cast for "The Powers That Be" (1992) in the TV Guide Fall Preview.
He was nominated for a 1976 Joseph Jefferson Award for Actor in a Principal Role in a Play for "Benito Cereno" at the Goodman Theatre in Chicago, Illinois.
He was nominated for a 1977 Joseph Jefferson Award for Actor in a Principal Role in a Play for his performance in "Don Juan" at the Goodman Theatre in Chicago, Illinois.
Best known by the public for his starring role as the title character in "Benson" (1979).
Is the first African-American actor to win the Emmy for Outstanding Lead Actor in a Comedy Series. As of 2013, he is the only African-American to win that award.
|"Benson" (1979)||$20,000 per 1/2 hour episode|
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