Robert Guillaume, two time Emmy Award Winner and one of the most famous TV personalities on the United States television in the 1980s, died of prostate cancer Tuesday. Guillaume, who was 89, played the titular role in TV show “Benson,” and lent his voice to the character of Rafiki in Disney hit “The Lion King." 

His wife Donna Brown Guillaume said in a statement that Guillaume died at his Los Angeles home, The Independent reported. The gravelly voiced actor thrived in Broadway musicals before he starred in a soap opera, “Soap." He took the role of a butler Benson DuBois in the TV series in 1977. His character became so popular among the masses that ABC network created a spin-off for the character by the name “Benson,” which ran for seven seasons from 1979 to 1986.  

Celebrity net worth puts Guillaume’s net worth at $5 million. He also received a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame and the St. Louis Walk of Fame. He is also the first African-American actor to win an Emmy Award. The actor won his first Primetime Emmy in 1979 for "Outstanding Supporting Actor in a Comedy Series" for the sitcom “Soap," and another in 1985 for "Outstanding Lead Actor in a Comedy Series" for the show “Benson." 

He also won a Grammy Award for "Best Spoken Word Album for Children" in 1995 for the “The Lion King Read-a-long Book.” In addition to that, Guillaume also won a Tony Award nomination for his Broadway musical “Guys and Dolls."  

Soon after the actor’s demise, condolences started pouring on Twitter. Celebrities like Samuel L. Jackson and Josh Charles paid tribute to the actor in their posts.

A Twitter user by the name Dana Dodson wrote, “RIP Robert Guillaume. Thank you for wonderful memories of watching Benson with my Mom.”

While, another by the name Cocoa Popps, tweeted, “Just heard we lost the legend, Robert Guillaume. Good Times, Soap, Benson, A Different World and more. He was such a presence. RIP King.”

Another user by the name JDS also hailed Guillaume as one of the most brilliant comedians. “Soap was bursting with brilliant comedians and he outshone them all. My first favorite comedic actor. RIP,” he tweeted. 

Born Robert Peter Williams on Nov. 30, 1927, he changed his name to Robert Guillaume to make it sound more unique. Guillaume is French for Williams. The actor — with a career span of almost 50 years — was raised in a St. Louis slum in Missouri by his grandmother after his parents abandoned him and his family.

Guillaume had a brief stint with the military and also worked as a trolley driver to save money for college. He then went on to study music at the Washington University in St. Louis that changed his life as he was discovered by a Hungarian opera singer, who helped him get a scholarship to the 1957 Aspen Music Festival and School in Colorado. After completing an apprenticeship at a theatre in Cleveland, Ohio, Guillaume made his professional debut.