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‘Benson’ Cast: Where Are They Now?

Find out where the stars from this hit sitcom are today!


The Benson cast came to television in the late 1970s. The series, created by Susan Harris, stood out not only for its comedic prowess but also for its unique premise and memorable characters. Benson was a spin-off of the popular show Soap and quickly gained its own dedicated following.

Benson revolves around the title character, Benson DuBois, played by Robert Guillaume, who serves as the wise and quick-witted butler to Governor Eugene Gatling (James Noble). The series primarily unfolds within the governor’s mansion, where Benson’s sharp tongue and clever maneuvers often steal the spotlight.

(Benson Cast) 1

The show garnered praise for its sharp writing, clever humor, and adept handling of social and political issues of the time. Running from 1979 to 1986, Benson spanned seven seasons and a total of 158 episodes.

Its longevity speaks to its enduring appeal, with audiences drawn to its blend of comedy, drama, and timely commentary. Susan Harris’s keen eye for satire and character-driven storytelling ensured that Benson remained relevant throughout its run.

Benson Cast: Robert Guillaume as Benson DuBois

Robert Guillaume as Benson DuBois (Benson Cast)
1977/ 2017 Michael Ochs Archives / Stringer/Getty; Amy Graves / Contributor/Getty

Born Robert Williams in 1927 in St. Louis, Missouri, Guillaume changed his name to the French version of William. He told The New York Times, “My grandfather used to tell me all the time about our French and Indian background, so I changed it; you know how many Robert Williamses there are in this country? I wanted something different.”

Guillaume started playing the role of Benson on the sitcom Soap, and his character was so popular that he got his own show, Benson, in 1979.  

Some criticized him for playing a black worker in a white household. He wrote in his memoir Guillaume: A Life, “I wanted black people to be proud of Benson.” He won the Emmy for Best Lead Actor in a Comedy Series in 1985.

After Benson, he starred in the 1989 The Robert Guillaume Show, a comedy in which he played a psychologist who becomes romantically involved with a white woman. The show was canceled after 12 episodes.

Guillaume went on to play the role of executive producer Isaac Jaffe on Aaron Sorkin’s Sports Night (1998-2000), a sitcom about the inner workings of a show much like ESPN’s SportsCenter. When Guillaume had a stroke in 1999, they wrote that into the character so that Guillaume could continue playing the part.

Guillaume also appeared in a few feature films, notably Lean on Me (1989) and Big Fish (2003). He also was the voice of Rafiki in The Lion King.

Guillaume died in 2017. He was 89.

Did you know? Robert Guillaume’s Emmy as Best Actor in a Comedy Series made him the first black performer to win in this category.

Related: ‘Hart to Hart’ Cast: Find Out What Happened to the Sleuthing Duo

James Noble as Governor Eugene Gatling

James Noble as Governor Eugene Gatling (Benson Cast)

Born in 1922 in Dallas, Texas, James Noble portrayed Governor Eugene Gatling, whose interactions with Benson provided much of the show’s comedic dynamics. Gatling’s bumbling yet well-meaning demeanor served as a perfect foil to Benson’s sharp wit.

Noble got his acting start on Broadway in the 1949 comedy The Velvet Glove. He went on to appear in several Broadway shows, including the musical 1776 (he also appeared in the 1972 film version of that play). His screen credits include One Life to Live and Another World. He also played Bo Derek’s father in the hit 1979 film 10.

Noble had guest appearances in several TV shows, Perfect Strangers, Law and Order and Peak Practice. His last movie appearance was in the 2011 movie Fake.

Noble died in 2016. He was 94.

Did you know? Noble died exactly 11 years after his wife, actress Carolyn Coates, died.

Related: ‘ZOOM’ 1972 — Fun Facts About the Beloved PBS Children’s Series

Benson Cast: Inga Swenson as Gretchen Kraus

Inga Swenson as Gretchen Kraus (Benson Cast)
1985Donaldson Collection / Contributor/Getty

Born in 1932 in Omaha, Nebraska, Inga Swenson portrayed Gretchen Kraus, the no-nonsense German cook at the governor’s mansion. Her interactions with Benson often provided comedic relief and added depth to the show’s ensemble cast. She was nominated for a Golden Globe and three Emmy awards for her role.

Before the Benson cast, Swenson had bit parts in several TV shows, including Bonanza, Barnaby Jones and Soap.

After Benson, Swenson was seen in several projects, including Newhart and The Golden Girls.

She also appeared on Broadway, earning two Tony Award nominations for Best Actress in a Musical for her roles as Lizzie Curry in 110 in the Shade and Irene Adler in Baker Street. 

Swenson passed away in 2023. She was 90.

Did you know? Swenson was so convincing in her role on Benson that audiences assumed she was of German descent in real life. She was not. She was of Scandinavian ancestry.

Related: The Golden Girls’ Secrets: 12 Amazing Stories About Rose, Blanche, Dorothy and Sophia

Missy Gold as Katie Gatling

Missy Gold as Katie Gatling (Benson Cast)
1987MediaPunch / Contributor/Getty

Born in Great Falls, Montana, Missy Gold played Katie Gatling, the precocious daughter of Governor Gatling. Her innocence and spunky personality added a youthful dynamic to the series.

Gold started acting in 1977 when she appeared in The Hardy Boys/Nancy Drew Mysteries. She also had guest appearances in Eight Is Enough, How the West Was Won, and Project U.F.O.,

Her big break, however, came playing Katie Gatling on the Benson cast.

Gold also appeared in Trapper John, M.D., and Fantasy Island. She also played the role of Traci Jordan in the television film Twirl in 1981. In 1984, Gold appeared as herself on the game show Celebrity Hot Potato. In 1986, she was the voice of Blink in the film The Blinkins: The Bear and the Blizzard.

Gold has since left acting and is now a licensed psychologist.

Did you know? Gold is the second of five children. She’s the younger sister of Tracy Gold from Growing Pains.

Related: ‘Eight Is Enough’ Cast: Where Are They Now?

Benson Cast: Ethan Phillips as Pete Downey

Ethan Phillips as Pete Downey (Benson Cast)
2001/2020 Albert L. Ortega / Contributor/Getty; Amy Sussman / Staff/Getty

Born in 1955 in Garden City, Ethan Phillips got his start playing bit parts in popular shows like Hart to Hart and One Life to Live. Phillips’s big break was playing the role of Pete Downey, the affable and often clueless press secretary at the governor’s mansion. His comedic timing and likable demeanor endeared him to audiences.

Phillips’s next big break was when he landed the role of Neelix on the hit TV series Star Trek: Voyage from 1995-2001.

He’s also appeared in several other shows including Boston Legal, Bones and True Blood.

Most recently, he played the role of Spike Martin in the TV series Avenue 5 from 2020-2022. He also resurrected the voice of Neelix in 2023’s TV mini-series Star Trek: Very Short Trek.

Did you know? Phillips has five sisters: Maddy, Maria, Joanne, Meg, and Angie.

Related: The Original ‘Star Trek’ Cast: Where They’ve Boldly Gone, Then and Now

Rene Auberjonois as Clayton Endicott III

Rene Auberjonois as Clayton Endicott III (Benson Cast)
2001/2018 Albert L. Ortega / Contributor/Getty; Albert L. Ortega / Contributor/Getty

Born in 1940 in New York City, New York, Rene Auberjonois portrayed Clayton Endicott III, the pompous and aristocratic head of affairs at the governor’s mansion. He was known for his comedic prowess and refined demeanor.

Auberjonois was a versatile actor in film, stage and television.

He appeared in several television shows of the 1970s including Starsky & Hutch, The Rockford Files, The Bob Newhart Show, and Charlie’s Angels.

Auberjonois played the role of the chaplain, Father Mulcahy, in the film version of M*A*S*H (1970). That same year, he appeared in the Broadway musical Coco, which also starred Katharine Hepburn as Coco Chanel, and Auberjonois won a Tony Award for his performance.

Auberjonois then landed the part of Clayton Endicott III, a man who was as self-important as his name but also painfully insecure.

After Benson, he was in Deep Space Nine in the 1990s and Boston Legal in the 2000s.

Auberjonois passed away in 2019. He was 79.

Did you know? Auberjonois had a voice part in the 1989 hit movie Little Mermaid. He was the voice of the chef who sings the famous song Les Poissons, about cooking fish for dinner.

Related: ‘One Day at a Time’ 1975 Cast: Where Are They Now?

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