Robert Guillaume Biography


rick jamesClaim to Fame: TV actor
DOB: November 30, 1927
Diabetes Type: 2

Robert "Bob" Guillaume is best known for his work in television, where he earned two Emmy Awards and four NAACP Image Awards for his role as Benson DuBois on Soap and Benson. He was born on November 30, 1927 in St. Louis, Missouri. He grew up and attended St. Louis University and Washington University, until his acting career started to take off when he joined the Karamu Players in Cleveland to perform in musical comedies and opera. 

Guillaume is an actor who breaks barriers. He has been a part of cinema, television, and theater of all shapes and sizes. In 1977 he earned a Tony nomination for his role in "Guys and Dolls," in a production that had an all-black cast. He has appeared in a long list of television shows and films including North and South, The Jeffersons, Meteor Man, Death Warrant, and Lean on Me. His voice is familiar to many as he was the voice of Rafiki, the baboon, in The Lion King. A complete list of the movies and shows he was in can be found on the Robert Guilaume page of IMDB.

His autobiography, Guillaume: A Life, detailing his more than 50 years in the entertainment business, was recently published, and the Smithsonian Institute in Washington, D.C. has presented an exhibit about his life that highlighted his achievements.

Robert Guillaume stars in another role that you won't find on IMDB; he is the leading man in the management of his type 2 diabetes. Guillaume says that he was diagnosed with type 2 after his wife took him to the hospital after he had been exhausted and lying in bed for three days. Once he got to the hospital, he learned that his blood glucose level was 717 mg/dl, which had compromised his body's ability to give him any energy.

Today, Guillaume manages his diabetes with good nutrition, exercise, and medication. He considers himself lucky because he hasn't had any major complications from his diabetes to date. In a 2004 interview with, Guillaume was asked how diabetes has changed his life:

"This condition has helped to make me more conscious of the importance of monitoring my food intake. I've tried to watch the amount of carbohydrate I take in. I can have almost anything, but it seems that if I can monitor myself every morning and get the glucose level okay, I'm better off. I think I had a problem because my blood glucose went totally unmonitored. So now I'm staying within acceptable limits," a candid Guillaume said.

This triple-threat star had some advice for others who are battling diabetes: "We tend to think that we are cursed or terribly unlucky, and it has nothing to do with that," he said. "Half of the battle is changing our thought processes along with our lifestyle. Historically, we are accustomed to taking ourselves out of the equation where our health is concerned…. Some of the best advice I can offer is that you work with your doctor to get the best results. It all boils down to personal health maintenance. Be proactive and get involved. Your health really does matter."

Find more entertainers with diabetes.

Reviewed by dLife staff 12/13.

Last Modified Date: December 30, 2013

All content on is created and reviewed in compliance with our editorial policy.

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by Brenda Bell
As I mentioned in an earlier post, one of the benefits that made it cost-effective for me to go with the real healthcare (HSA) plan rather than the phony (HRA) plan is that my company is now covering "preventative" medicines at $0 copay. The formulary for these, as stated by CVS/Caremark (my pharmacy benefits provider), covers all test strips, lancets, and control solutions. I dutifully get my doctor to write up prescriptions for all of my testing needs, submit...
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