Robert Guillaume, Actor Known for ‘Benson’ and ‘Lion King,’ Dies in L.A. at 89

Actor Robert Guillaume, best known for his title role in the TV series “Benson,” died Tuesday at his home in Los Angeles. He was 89.

Actor Robert Guillaume arrives at the premiere of Walt Disney Studios' “The Lion King 3D” at the El Capitan Theater on August 27, 2011 in Los Angeles. (Credit: Kevin Winter/Getty Images)

Actor Robert Guillaume arrives at the premiere of Walt Disney Studios’ “The Lion King 3D” at the El Capitan Theater on August 27, 2011 in Los Angeles. (Credit: Kevin Winter/Getty Images)

His wife Donna Guillaume told CNN he had battled prostate cancer in recent years.

“He kinda went the way everyone wishes they could, surrounded by love and in his sleep,” Guillaume said.

She added that her husband really loved making music, entertaining and making people laugh. He treasured his role as Rafiki in Disney’s 1994 animated film “The Lion King,” she said.

Guillaume starred as the level-headed butler Benson DuBois on the sitcom “Benson” from 1979 – 1986. He won the Emmy for outstanding lead actor in a comedy for his performance in the role in 1985. Dozens of TV roles followed, including turns on “A Different World” and “Sports Night.”

Guillaume is survived by four children, all of whom had spent time visiting with their father in his final weeks, Donna Guillaume said.

“He was a good father and a good husband. He was a great, great person,” she said.