Robert "Bob" Guillaume is an American stage and television actor, best known for his role as Benson Du Bois on the TV-series Soap and the spin-off Benson, voicing the mandrill Rafiki in The Lion King, as Isaac Jaffe on Sports Night, and as Eli Vance in the Half Life 2 series. Also, notably, as superintendent of schools, Dr. Frank Napier, in the 1989 film Lean on Me
Robert Guillaume was born as Robert Peter Williams 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. Other stage appearances included Golden Boy, Tambourines to Glory, Guys and Dolls, for which he was nominated for a Tony Award, Jacques Brel is Alive and Well and Living in Paris, the Los Angeles production of The Phantom of the Opera, 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.