Donna Brown Guillaume
Donna Brown Guillaume was the second and last wife of late stage, TV and film actor, Robert Guillaume. Known for his role as Benson on the TV series Soap and the spin-off Benson –the veteran actor died aged 89 on October 24, 2017 after losing his battle to prostate cancer.
Born Robert Peter Williams on Nov. 30, 1927, in St. Louis; he was raised by his grandmother who taught him to read and enrolled him in a Catholic school.
He enrolled at St. Louis University, excelling in philosophy and Shakespeare, and then at Washington University in St. Louis.
After serving as an apprentice at theaters in Aspen, Colo., and Cleveland, the newly named Mr. Guillaume toured with the Broadway shows “Finian’s Rainbow,” “Golden Boy,” “Porgy and Bess” and “Purlie,” and began appearing on sitcoms such as “The Jeffersons” and “Sanford and Son.” Then came “Soap” and “Benson.”
Guillaume was also known for providing the voice for Half-Life 2’s Eli Vance and Rafiki in Disney’s The Lion King.
In 1999 he suffered a minor stroke and as result he traveled as a new spokesman for the American Stroke Association. He also made appearances for the American Heart Association.
Donna Brown and Robert Guillaume were married in 1986. She was his second wife and the mother of one daughter, Rachel Guillaume.
Robert had been previously married to first wife, Marlene Scott Williams (pictured below).
The marriage lasted nearly 30-years, from 1955 until their divorce in 1984. Robert and Marlene welcomed two sons during their marriage –Kevin and Jacques –who tragically died in 1990, aged 33 due to complications from AIDS.
His second marriage to Dona Brown Guillaume also ended in divorce after nearly 20-years in 2005. Donna Brown is a former TV producer and Harvard graduate, who began her television career in the Channel 2 Newsroom at KCBS, then moved to “The CBS Evening News”, in the Los Angeles bureau. After a brief stint there she was hired to produce and direct segments for “Two On The Town”, an Emmy award-winning, 5-day a week news magazine show for the Los Angeles CBS station.
According tot her LinkedIn, she is the program director at National Foster Youth Institute.
In 1992, she and Robert founded the Confetti Entertainment Company, according to one of his biographies.
The company publishes read-along books and tapes, and inspired the award-winning animated HBO television series, “Happily Ever After: Fairy Tales for Every Child”. The series showcases traditional fairy tales, with characters voiced by a multi-ethnic cast of celebrities. Robert’s voice is featured as the narrator of each episode.
The couple’s daughter, Rachel is reportedly an actress who had a brief voiceover role on her parents’ show, Happily Ever After: Fairy Tales for Every Child.
Despite their separation, Donna Brown Guillaume was with the actor on his final days. It was her who confirmed the news to media outlets.
According to the BBC, the Emmy Award-winning actor is survived by his second wife, a son and three daughters.