Remembering Bob Guillaume (November 30, 1927- October 24, 2017)

1977, when I knew him

When I knew him –
before Soap or Benson or Sports Night
or the Lion King —
he was good old reliable
Nathan Detroit,
and I heard him serenade
Adelaide, the well-known fiancée
ninety-six times in all.

It was the bicentennial summer
and hot as hell in DC.

Bob was the “star”
who made a point to know
about the pregnancy complications
of the wife of a stagehand
on the fly floor and send flowers
when the baby was born.
Although he walked around
like there was
a follow spot on his smile –
he never stood in anyone else’s light,
stepped on their lines
or stole their laughs.
He even knew me,
the assistant company manager
last months before
heading off to seminary
and wished me well there.

The producer played “Guys and Dolls”
on the fourth of July
opposite the two-hundred birthday
celebration in fireworks,
(probably the worst house
that old National Theatre ever saw),

but I learned more
about americans, maybe human beings
from this black man–
coming up from hard times
to success
and not letting either one
turn small his generous heart.

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3 Responses to Remembering Bob Guillaume (November 30, 1927- October 24, 2017)

  1. Beautiful! Thanks for sharing.
    Peace, Kris

  2. LL says:

    “A follow spot on his smile” beautiful!!!

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