BREAKING NEWS: Tony nominee and Emmy winner Robert Guillaume passed away today at 89 due to Prostate cancer. Some of us grew up with him as the voice of “Rafiki” in the original 1994 animated film version of The Lion King and as “Benson” on the TV show Soap.

However for Guillaume, it all started for him on the stage appearing in shows like Purlie, Jacques Brel Is Alive and Well and Living in Paris, and Guys and Dolls.

However, he was more notably known for being the first African American actor ever to play the title role in The Phantom of the Opera. He replaced original masked man Michael Crawford during the show’s sit down Los Angeles production in the early 90’s. He later opened the doors for Norm Lewis (who made history as the first African American “Phantom” in the Broadway cast) and Derrick Davis (currently appearing on the current US National Tour production).

RIP Robert. Your spirit LIVES IN US and thank you for sharing with us your MUSIC OF THE NIGHT.

First African American ‘Phantom’ Robert Guillaume Dies at 89

Rest in peace, Robert Guillaume!

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