I don’t believe that there is a kid who has seen the Lion King, and hasn’t shed a tear. We all owe a great deal of our childhoods to the man who provided the voice for the wise monkey Rafiki – Robert Guillaume.
Sadly, the actor passed away at the age of 89, after being diagnosed with prostate cancer.
He wasn’t all that present in the spotlight. Guillaume got his first acting job in 1961, on Broadway, for a production of Kwamina.
His career in the film business lasted quite a while, and among his credits a leading role in ABC’s hit sitcom Benso, and he made appearances in sitcoms like Saved by the Bell.
He was also asked to test for the role of a butler of a governor’s mansion in the TV sitcom Soap. What he then said about it was : “The minute I saw the script, I knew I had a live one,”. “Every role was written against type, especially Benson, who wasn’t subservient to anyone. To me, Benson was the revenge for all those stereotyped guys who looked like Benson in the ’40s and ’50s (movies) and had to keep their mouths shut.”
The show turned out to be really successful.
He was mostly famous for borrowing the voice of the colorful mandrill Rafiki. Right now I bet that what’s going through everyone’s mind is the moment when Rafiki holds up baby Simba at the edge of Pride Rock. Now that’s an iconic opening! Such an emotional moment for all of us.
Ever since that moment, Rafiki is considered to be a guide and confidant for Simba, even at the moment when he decided to swat him over the head with his staff.
One thing is certain: Robert Guillaume left an iconic impression on all of us, and left us with emotional memories that will forever remind us of our childhood. May he rest in peace.