Benson was an American sitcom that aired on the ABC network from 1979 until 1986. Like many shows of the time, audiences are often curious to see how the many cast members’ lives turned out after the show. Sadly, a good deal of the Benson cast has passed away since the time of the show’s initial airing, including the man that played the titular butler himself. Join Facts Verse as we explore how each Benson cast member died.
Benson was a sitcom that ran for nearly seven years on the ABC network. Starting in September of 1979 and not ending it’s urn until April of 1986. The show was a spin-off the similarly successful comedy Soap. However, while Soap had a format that parodied soap operas of the time. Benson had a format that was closer to traditional competing sitcoms.
The character of Benson Dubois originally created for Soap before going on to get his own titular show in the form of Benson. Benson served as the butler for the Tate family in Soap, then moved onto another family for his titular spin-off. In Benson, Benson DuBois is the household butler of Governor Eugene X, a fictional and wealthy politician.
Actor Robert Guillaume played the character of Benson. The actor had a fairly impressive career outside of his work as Benson on both Soap and it’s spin-off, but has since passed away. Likewise, many other actors that featured alongside Robert on the classic show have since met their end. Let’s take a look at some of the many cast members from the show that have passed away since appearing. As well, we’ll check in and see how some of the surviving cast members are doing in their later years!
The first person we’ll be taking a look at is actress Billie Bird, who played the character of Mrs. Rose Cassidy later in Benson’s run. Billie was born in 1908. She was born in the town of Pocatello, Idaho, and raised in an orphanage.
At the age of eight, Billie discovered by a talent scout and became a young vaudeville performer, working in acts such as the King Sisters. Later on, she became a cabaret and theater performer before eventually making her way onto film and television. One of her first notable roles on screen was in the 1950s film The Odd Couple.
Around the same time that Billie began appearing on Benson, she also struck up a professional relationship with writer and director John Hughes. Throughout the 80s and 90s, Billie could often seen performing minor roles in many of the filmmaker’s comedies, including Home Alone and Sixteen Candles. Her largest role on film was in Police Academy 4. And her final appearance on film was in the 1995 Pauly Shore comedy Jury Duty..
In addition to Benson, there were also several other television shows that Billie appeared in during her many years in the spotlight. She could seen performing minor guest roles in popular shows such as Eight Is Enough, Facts of Life, and Silver Spoons. She also had more major roles in the 1980s series It Takes Two and Dear John.
Billie married to Edwin Sellen, and the two stayed together until the latter’s death in 1966. During that time, the couple had three children. Billie herself didn’t die until many, many years later, passing away in 2002 after a long and tumultuous battle with Alzheimer’s disease. At the time of her death, Billie was 94.
Next let’s take a look at René Auberjonois. René played the character of Clayton Endicott III for the entirety of Benson’s run. However he also did plenty of work before and since. Like many of the figures on this list, René came onto the acting scene through his work in theatrical productions. Join Facts Verse as we explore how each Benson cast member died.
René was born in 1940, and was a Tony-winning theatrical star throughout the 1970s before taking on his regular role on Benson. In 1970, he acted on stage alongside Katharine Hepburn in the musical production Coco. He had several other notable roles throughout the decade, including in Neil Simon’s 1973 play The Good Doctor.
After Benson’s production run came to and end, René could seen on stage in Roger Miller’s Big River and Cy Coleman’s City of Angels, winning great acclaim. As well, he maintained work on television. Taking a notable role in the series Star Trek: Deep Space Nine throughout the 90s.
Other notable works that René appeared in were the television series Boston Legal and the films The Little Mermaid and The Patriot. He also provided his voice to numerous video games, including Fallout: New Vegas, God of War, and Star Trek Online.
René married from 1963 until the time of his death in 2019. His wife’s name was Judith, and they had two children together. The cause of René’s death said to be metastatic lung cancer, and he was 79 years old at the time that it happened. If you’re enjoying this video so far, be sure to hit the like button to show your support! As well, subscribe to the channel if you’d like to be among the first to know when more Facts Verse videos are on their way!
The next deceased Benson cast member we’ll be taking a look at is James Wilkes Noble, who played the character of Governor Eugene X. Of course, the character around for the entirety of the show’s run. And was one of it’s most important characters besides Benson himself.
James was born in Dallas, Texas, in 1922. He studied acting before taking a leave to serve in the Navy during World War II. From there, he pursued acting as a career, and it didn’t take him long before he was finding some minor success on Broadway as a back-up performer!
James was truly seeking a career in film and television. Thankfully, the opportunity presented itself soon enough. With roles in soap operas such as As the World Turns and A World Apart. Eventually, 1979 rolled around and James given his most notable role to date in Benson.
On film, James could be seen in the 1972 musical 1776, as well as the 1979 pair of films Being There and 10. He was also notably the spokesperson in a series of Pepto-Bismol ads around that same period of time.
James married in 1957 to a woman named Carolyn, and the two stayed married until her death in 2005. During this time, they had only one daughter. James himself died just over 10 years after his wife, in 2016. He died shortly after his 94th birthday, and the cause of his death was said to be a stroke. Join Facts Verse as we explore how each Benson cast member died.
Finally, let’s take a look at Benson’s titular star. Robert Guillaume is the man that played the character of Benson on both Soap and it’s spin-off, though he has come to be almost equally as notable to animation fans for voicing the character of Rafiki in The Lion King. Before both of these roles, Robert had a long and storied career in entertainment.
Robert was born in St. Louis, Missouri, in 1927. Robert was one of many siblings, and their alcoholic mother abandoned them all soon after Robert was born. Thankfully, their grandmother was around to carry the burden. Robert received an education at the Washington University in St. Louis before serving in the Army.
After his time in the Army, Robert began performing with a group known as the Karamu Players. This group performed operas and musical comedies. After that, he was a touring performer in the 1959 Broadway musical Free and Easy.
Robert’s big break on Broadway came in the 1961 production Kwamina. After that, he appeared in several other notable productions, such as Guys and Dolls and Golden Boy. In the latter, Robert performed alongside Sammy Davis Jr. In the 1970s, Robert became increasingly interested in television acting. He received the role of Benson in Soap, and became so popular he was given his own spin-off!
After his time as Benson, Robert could be seen performing guest roles on some other television programs, such as The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air. However, his most prominent post-Benson work came in the form of his various voice-acting gigs. Robert provided his voice to many cartoons, including the aforementioned Disney hit The Lion King.
Robert was married two times over the course of his life. His first wife was Marlene Williams, and the two married in 1955. They had two sons, but separated when Robert decided he wanted to seriously pursue a career in entertainment. Despite their separation, the two didn’t officially divorce until 1984. That same year, Robert was given a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame. Join Facts Verse as we explore how each Benson cast member died.
While he was separated from but still technically married to Marlene, Robert fathered and began raising a child with his girlfriend, Patricia. However, that relationship didn’t work out for Robert, either. Finally, Robert married his second wife, Donna Brown, in 1986. The two remained together until Robert’s death in 2017. Robert died of prostate cancer, and he was 84 years old at the time of his death.
Although all of the aforementioned Benson stars have passed away since their time on the popular sitcom, there are other stars that still remain with us! One such star is Ethan Phillips, who played the character of Pete Downey.
Ethan Phillips was born in 1955, and raised in Long Island, New York. He also made a name for himself in theater before moving into film and television, finding moderate success in all three endeavors. Ethan can still sometimes be seen in prominent films, having recently appeared in 2016’s The Purge: Election Year. There was also Inga Swenson, who played the character of Gretchen Kraus.
Didi Conn is another former Benson star that is still around. She was born in 1951 in Brooklyn, New York City. The actress is perhaps best known for playing the character of Frenchy in Grease, a role that is arguably even more memorable than her turn on Benson. She recently became the oldest contestant ever on Britain’s Dancing on Ice, though she was eliminated in the fourth round.
Finally, there’s Missy Gold. Missy was born in 1970, making her the youngest actor on Benson. Because of this, it’s no surprise that she’s one of the ones that’s still alive! As a child actress, Missy played the character of Katie, Governor Eugene X’s daughter. Though she acted in a few other television programs in the 1980s, she decided to abandon the field and purse a career in psychology instead. Join Facts Verse as we explore how each Benson cast member died.
In addition to their work on Benson, all of the aforementioned stars also appeared in plenty of other noteworthy works! Comment down below to share which of these works surprised you the most, or if you were surprised to learn that any of these actors or actresses had passed away. As always, like this video to show your support, and subscribe and hit the notification bell if you’d like to be among the first to know when more Facts Verse videos are on their way!