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Benson Gets the Blues

Karamu honors Robert Guillaume . . . while it still can.

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Veteran TV and stage actor Robert Guillaume will relive his theatrical memories at tonight's inaugural Karamu House Hall of Fame Inductions. "It fills me with dread," admits the 78-year-old Guillaume, best known as the butler-turned-politico on Soap and its spin-off, Benson. "I don't necessarily want to be honored, because it signals a certain event in your career — that it may be over soon. It's as if they're saying, 'We want to honor you before you check out.'" In addition to Guillaume, Karamu inducts nine other alumni tonight, including founders Rowena and Russell Jelliffe. Late choreographer Hank Nystrom, who worked with Guillaume in an all-black Karamu production of Carousel in 1957, is also honored.

In the '70s, Guillaume was a Broadway regular who scored a Tony nomination for his role in Guys & Dolls. In 1977, he was cast in the satirical TV show Soap, for which he won an Emmy (he also won one for Benson). He's retired these days, Guillaume says. "But I just don't know it. I'm just waiting until someone asks me to go bungee-jumping."
Sat., Sept. 9, 5:30 p.m.

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