Whatever Happened to the Cast of 'Benson'?
Benson is an American sitcom that focused on the back of the house dealings and doings of the daily events, and often shenanigans, of a fictional governor's mansion.
In the show, Benson is the director of household affairs for the governor...which is a long way from the character's start as the butler in another 70s/80s TV sitcom called Soap.
Unfortunately, I'm reminiscing about this show because of the death of its star, Robert Guillaume. Guillaume passed away on October 24, 2017. The event both saddened me and inspired me to write this article to check in on the whereabouts of the rest of the cast of Benson.
Benson DuBois, Played by Robert Guillaume
After Benson went of the air in 1986, Guillaume went on to guest star in many TV shows, including 13 episodes of a short-lived sitcom called The Robert Guillaume Show, A Different World, LA Law, and The Fresh Prince of Bel Air.
In 1999, Guillaume suffered a minor stroke, but he quickly recovered and went on in some guest starring roles, as well as voice acting for animated TV shows, such as Timon & Pumbaa. If you will recall, he originated the voice of Rafiki, the monkey from The Lion King. He also had a long stint voicing the narration for the children's show Happily Ever After: Fairy Tales for Every Child.
Most recently (2013), he appeared in episodes of CSI and Wanda Sykes Presents Herlarious. His last performance was as Dr. Black in the 2013 short film Off the Beach. The storyline revolves around a man who invites his son and two closest friends to an unusual gathering for his 82nd birthday.
As I mentioned above, Robert Guillaume passed away on October 24, 2017. He was 89 years old; the cause of his death was prostate cancer. Robert Guillaume will be remembered as an esteemed actor of television and the stage.
Governor Eugene Gatling, Played by James Noble
James Noble played the role of Governor Eugene Gatling. The governor was dim-witted but he had a heart of gold and had good intentions.
After Benson ended, Noble went on to an illustrious career of guest starring in many 80s TV shows, 90s TV shows, and beyond. He had a significant role as Raymond Voss on First Impressions in 1988. His last acting credit to date was in a film short called Consequential Lies (2011), where he played the role of Father Easter.
Noble was married to actress Carolyn Coates from 1956 until her death in 2005; the couple had a daughter. Carolyn Coates was most well known for her role as Alice on the 1970s TV series The Doctors. On March 28, 2016, James Noble died from complications of a stroke he had a week prior.
Gretchen Kraus, Played by Inga Swenson
Inga Swenson portrayed the role of Getchen Kraus. Kraus was the stern German housekeeper/chef to the governor. She was most often trading barbs with Benson. The two shared a running gag where he would whisper something rude about her under his breath just as she walked out of whatever room the two of them happened to be in, but Kraus always responded with an off-stage shout of "I Hear You!"
Toward the end of the series, we saw that Kraus was Benson's strongest supporter when he ran for governer against Gatling. The two often clashed, but the respect between them was genuine and mutual.
After Benson came to an end, Inga Swenson guest starred in a couple of 80s TV mini-series' and a few TV series. One standout for Swenson was a guest starring role in The Golden Girls as Rose Nylund's little sister in 1989. Inga Swenson's last role to date was in the TV series Life with Louie where she voiced the role of Grandma Helga.
Inga Swenson has been married to singer/actor Lowell Harris since 1953. The couple had two sons, James and Mark Harris. Her son James died from injuries he sustained in a motorcycle accident in 1987.
Today, Inga Swenson is retired from acting and she lives in Los Angeles. Contrary to popular belief from her years of playing the stoic German on Benson, Inga Swenson is not of German descent; she is Scandinavian and she speaks flawless English.
Clayton Endicott III, Played by Rene Auberjonois
Rene Auberjonois played the snobby Clayton Endicott III, Governor Gatling's chief of staff. Auberjonois replaced actor Lewis J. Stadlen, who only played the role in season 1. Clayton and Benson were always at odds, mainly because Clayton was smart enough to see that Benson had more of an influence on Governor Gatling than he. Unlike with Benson's relationship with Kruas, Clayton genuinely wasn't a fan of Benson.
After Benson came to an end, Auberjonois went on to a long and busy career with guest starring roles from Boston Legal to voice acting on Archer and Pound Puppies. His most well known role since Benson was a seven-year stint on Star Trek: Deep Space Nine (1993). To date, his last acting credit was playing President James Buchanan in the movie Raising Buchanan (2019).
René Auberjonois and his wife Judith have been married since 1963. They have two children, Tessa and Remy, and three grandchildren. Unfortunately, Renee Auberjonois passed away a week after this article was initially published. The actor died from metastatic lung cancer at his home in Los Angeles on December 8, 2019, he was 79 years old.
Marcy Hill, Played by Caroline McWilliams
Caroline McWilliams played the sensible Marcy Hill, the governor's personal secretary. Although she was competent in her duties, she had a habit of choosing the wrong guy—until she hit pay dirt at the end of season 2 and she found love and got married.
After she completed her stint on Benson, Caroline McWilliams went on to guest starring roles in many typical 80s TV series. McWilliams had two enduring roles in Beverly Hills 90210 and Nearly Departed; her last acting credit was when she played the role of Helen Steele in a three-episode stint on Judging Amy in 2002.
Caroline McWilliams was married to actor Michael Keaton from 1982-1990 and the couple had a son. Sadly, the actress died of cancer on February 11, 2010. She was only 64 years old.
Katie Gatling, Played by Missy Gold
Missy Gold played the role of Katie Gatling, the governor's precocious daughter. We watched her grow in her seven-year stint on the show, but afterwards, she left the Hollywood scene behind. Her only acting credit after Benson was a voice part on a TV movie called The Blinkins: The Bear and the Blizzard in 1986, the same year that Benson wrapped.
Gold was part of a child acting trio, because her sister, Brandy Gold, played Alexis on St. Elsewhere and another sister, Tracey Gold, was well known for playing Carol on Growing Pains.
Eventually, Missy Gold enrolled at Georgetown University; she has since earned a Ph.D. in Psychology. She's now married and she has a private practice in Napa Valley, California.
DiDi Conn as Denise, Ethan Phillips as Pete, Billie Bird as Rose, and Lewis J. Stadlen as John
Didi Conn came onto the show as a replacement for Caroline McWilliams as Denise in season 3. After season 5, she moved on to a couple of TV series guest spots, but she found the biggest success as Stacy/Gracie on Shining Time Station. Didi Conn's last acting credit to date has been in Grease Live! (2019) and she currently has two projects in post-production.
Ethan Phillips played Pete Downey, the governor's press secretary. Pete and Denise were romantically involved. He also left after season 5 and he's been acting steadily ever since. His last acting credit was in an episode of New Amsterdam and he currently has three projects in post-production.
Billie Bird joined the show as chef Rose Cassidy. She replaced Inga Swenson after the character Kraus was promoted to Benson's admin. After Benson wrapped, she was also steadily working and she struck gold again as Mrs. Philbert in the TV series Dear John. Her last acting credit is an episode of George and Leo in 1997. Sadly, Billie Bird succumbed to Alzheimer's disease on November 27, 2002. She was 94 years old.
Lewis J. Stadlen played governor Gatling's chief of staff in season one. After he left Benson, he was in a fair amount of roles, with a most notable turn as Dr. Fried on The Sopranos. To date, his last acting credit is in the TV series Life from Lincoln Center in 2014.