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Congresswoman Karen Bass

Representing the 37th District of California

Rep. Bass Issues Tribute Upon Passing Of Friend Robert Guillaume

October 24, 2017
Press Release
Today, Rep. Karen Bass (D-Calif.) issued the following tribute upon the passing of her dear friend, actor Robert Guillaume, on her Facebook page.

"Today, Los Angeles lost a star and I, a dear friend. 

"The light Robert Guillaume brought into a room was as impenetrable as the light that shined down on him on stage. He was a fighter; someone who carried himself by his own weight from the inner city of St. Louis to the bright lights of Hollywood. A trailblazer for black actors and actresses throughout the country, Robert’s contributions to beating back racial prejudice on stages across the country cannot be overstated. In 1985, he became the first black actor to win an Emmy for lead actor in a comedy series for his role in Benson, a feat that has unfortunately remained nearly insurmountable. Just this year, Donald Glover became only the second black actor to win the award.  

"Always dedicated and inspired by his craft, Robert continued to challenge his limits, a truly inspirational journey to witness. I’ll forever remember his performance as the first black actor to sing the title role of "Phantom of the Opera," appearing with an all-white cast, leaving jaws dropped and audiences remarking “We had no idea Benson could sing, let alone sing opera!” 

"But sing he did, and sing he shall. His endearing essence and comforting spirit will be so missed. We could all afford to live by his words:

"To assuage bitterness requires more than human effort. Relief comes from a source we cannot see but can only feel. I am content to call that source love.'

"Robert, may you rest now, without pain or worry, wrapped in the love you hold dear."

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