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Benson was a spin-off from Soap and actually ran longer than Soap did. It ran from September 1979 until August 1986 on ABC, producing 158 episodes.

For more on Benson go to the mini-page right here at Sitcoms Online.


Here is Caroline McWilliams Obituary from the LA Times

Caroline McWilliams dies at 64; actress was on TV's 'Benson' and 'Soap'

McWilliams, whose other television work included 'Guiding Light' and 'Judging Amy,' also directed and acted on stage. Her film roles included 'Mermaids' in 1990.

February 21, 2010|
By Keith Thursby

Caroline McWilliams, an actress and director best known to television audiences for her work on the series "Benson" and "Soap," has died. She was 64.

McWilliams died Feb. 11 at her home in Los Angeles from complications of multiple myeloma, her family said.

Caroline Margaret McWilliams was born April 4, 1945, in Seattle but grew up in Barrington, R.I. She graduated in 1966 with a bachelor's degree from Carnegie Mellon University in Pittsburgh.

Her first break on television was on "Guiding Light," a longtime CBS soap opera in which she appeared for several years beginning in 1969. While in New York, she also started to build her stage career.

McWilliams' credits included "Boccaccio," "Cat on a Hot Tin Roof" and "The Rothschilds," along with productions for the New York Shakespeare Festival and the American Shakespeare Festival in Stratford, Conn.

She also appeared on the soap opera "Another World" in 1975.

In 1978 and '79, she played Sally on the ABC comedy "Soap," and from 1979 to '81 played Marcy Hill on the series Benson, a spinoff from "Soap" starring Robert Guillaume.

Other TV appearances included starring in the 1989 series "Nearly Departed" with Eric Idle, "Beverly Hills, 90210" and "Judging Amy."

Her movie roles included "Mermaids" in 1990.

McWilliams' sister Kelly-Jo Dvareckas said she "really felt she hit her stride when she started to direct."

McWilliams' credits as a director included the plays "Divorcons (Let's Get a Divorce)," "You Haven't Changed a Bit and Other Lies" and "The Smoke and Ice Follies."

In addition to her sister, McWilliams is survived by her son, Sean Douglas, and sisters Norma Liedtke and Patti McWilliams. She was divorced from actor Michael Keaton.

Here is James Noble Obituary from The New York Times

‘Benson’ Star James Noble Dies at 94
By Liam Stack New York Times April 03, 2016

NEW YORK — James Noble, the actor best known for his role as the absent-minded governor on the hit 1980s sitcom “Benson,” died Monday at Norwalk Hospital in Connecticut. He was 94.

His death was confirmed by Douglas Moser, a spokesman for the family, who said Mr. Noble, who lived in Norwalk, had a stroke last week.

From 1979 to 1986, Mr. Noble played Eugene Gatling, the well-meaning but somewhat bumbling governor of an unnamed state, on the ABC series “Benson.”

The show starred Robert Guillaume, playing the same character he had played on the sitcom “Soap.” Benson was originally the governor’s “director of household affairs,” but over the course of the series he rose to state budget director and then to lieutenant governor.

The two men’s friendly if sometimes fraught working relationship was the focus of the series, which since its original run ended was seen in syndication on the Nick at Nite and TV Land cable channels.

James Wilkes Noble was born in Dallas on March 5, 1922. He studied drama and engineering at Southern Methodist University but left to join the Navy during World War II.

After the war he studied acting under Lee Strasberg at the Actors Studio in New York.

Before rising to national fame on television, Mr. Noble was primarily known as a stage actor. He made his Broadway debut in a 1949 production of the comedy “The Velvet Glove” and went on to appear in four more Broadway shows, including the musical “1776,” in which he played John Hancock. He also had a small role in the 1972 film version.

His other movie and television work included the soap operas “One Life to Live” and “Another World” and the hit film “10.”

Mr. Noble’s wife, the actress Carolyn Coates, whom he met when they were both appearing in a production of “Pygmalion,” died in 2005. He leaves a daughter, Jessica Katherine Noble Cowan.

Here is Robert Guillaume's Obituary from the Hollywood Reporter

Robert Guillaume, 'Benson' Emmy Winner, Dies at 89

12:55 PM PDT 10/24/2017 by Duane Byrge , Mike Barnes

He also portrayed Isaac Jaffe on 'Sports Night,' voiced Rafiki in 'The Lion King' and earned a Tony nomination for 'Guys and Dolls.'

Robert Guillaume, the urbane actor who received two Emmy Awards for portraying the acidic butler Benson on a pair of ABC sitcoms, died Tuesday. He was 89.

Guillaume, a baritone who also starred on the stage and voiced the wise mandrill Rafiki in The Lion King (1994) and its related sequels, video games and TV series, died at his home in Los Angeles, his wife, Donna Brown Guillaume, told the Associated Press. He had been battling prostate cancer.

Guillaume's penchant for playing distinguished characters resolutely defied racial stereotypes — as he did on ABC's critically acclaimed Aaron Sorkin series Sports Night, on which he played Isaac Jaffe, the managing editor of an ESPN-style news program.

In 1999, Guillaume had a mild stroke while in his dressing room on the Sports Night set.

"I was fortunate in the sense that the stroke I suffered was not so debilitating that I could not move around with some degree of regularity," he said in a 2008 interview. "My wife, Donna, suggested to Aaron that perhaps we could incorporate the stroke into the series and he agreed … it allowed me to come back and not pretend that I had not had a stroke."

Guillaume's polished portrayal of the imperious family retainer Benson DuBois endured for nine years, first in three seasons on Soap (1977-80) and then on the spinoff Benson, which ran until April 1986. Both shows were created by Susan Harris.

Benson's personal arc went from butler/cook to state budget director and finally to lieutenant governor. He even ran for governor against his former boss, Eugene X. Gatling (James Noble), but that race — a season-ending cliff-hanger — went undecided because the show went off the air.

"When I got the role of Benson, I was not the happiest camper," Guillaume said on an installment of Oprah: Where Are They Now? that aired in January 2016. "I had reservations, because you're serving food, you're serving the family and all that sort of thing. … It's like nothing has changed since the 1800s.

"But the more I examined the role and read the script, I figured out a way to take some of the stench off the idea."

Guillaume's Emmy for outstanding actor in a comedy in 1985 made him the only black man to win in that category. He also received the supporting comedy actor trophy in 1979, earning six noms in all for playing Benson.

Guillaume also collected a Tony nomination for best actor in a musical in 1977 for playing Nathan Detroit in a revival of Guys and Dolls (Frank Sinatra did the part in the 1955 film), and he replaced the original Phantom Michael Crawford in an L.A. production of The Phantom of the Opera, receiving plaudits from audiences and critics alike.

He was born Robert Williams in St. Louis on Nov. 30, 1927, and raised by his maternal grandmother. Following high school, he served in the U.S. Army, then attended St. Louis University. He majored in business administration, but all the while fantasized about singing with the Metropolitan Opera in New York.

Guillaume persevered with his dream and won a scholarship to the Aspen Music Festival. He parlayed that opportunity into an apprenticeship at Cleveland's Karamu Theater, where he appeared in operas and musical comedy.

He moved to New York and went on to perform in a number of musicals and big productions on Broadway, starting with Finian's Rainbow in 1960 and then with Kwamina, Tambourines to Glory and Purlie.

Guillaume also appeared in the films Seems Like Old Times (1980), Lean on Me (1989), Death Warrant (1990), The Meteor Man (1993), First Kid (1996), Spy Hard (1996) and Big Fish (2003). And he wrote, directed and starred in the 1986 ABC telefilm John Grin's Christmas.

Guillaume also starred as a divorced marriage counselor on the 1989 ABC series The Robert Guillaume Show; served as the narrator of the HBO animated series Happily Ever After; and guest-starred on Julia, Marcus Welby, M.D., All in the Family, The Jeffersons, Good Times, The Love Boat, L.A. Law, Diagnosis Murder, Touched by an Angel and 8 Simple Rules for Dating My Teenage Daughter.

In 1992, Guillaume partnered in The Confetti Co., which published read-along books and audiocassettes (he was the narrator) of traditional fairy tales written with a multiethnic approach. Two years later, he received a Grammy Award for his Rafiki vocals on a spoken-word album for kids.

To read some articles on Benson go to and and and and and

To see clips of Benson go to

For an episode guide go to

For Benson Online (The Original) go to

For Tim's TV Showcase go to

For two great reviews of Benson go to and

For some Benson-related interview videos at the Archive of American Television go to

To watch the opening credits go to
Date: Sun March 28, 2004 � Filesize: 42.3kb � Dimensions: 577 x 455 �
Keywords: Benson


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