1 9 8 0 – 1 9 8 6 (USA)
In this spin-off from Soap, Benson the butler was sent by Jessica Tate to help her widowed cousin, Governor James Gatling, a sweet, well-meaning man, but terribly naive.
Benson was is charge of the Governor’s household and helped raise Katie, the Governor’s daughter.
Benson was constantly at odds with Gretchen Kraus, the sharp-tongued German housekeeper while he assisted the meek governor in deciding what to do, both politically and personally.
He was usually of more help than the Governor’s political aides: John Taylor and Clayton Endicott , both of whom resented Benson’s considerable influence on the Governor.
The other characters at and about the mansion were: Marcy Hill, the Governor’s secretary; Pete Downing, the bumbling press assistant; and Frankie, the messenger boy.
In 1981 Benson was appointed state budget director, giving him added responsibilities as well as his own secretary, Denise, who later married Pete.
Benson’s remarkable rise continued in 1984 when he was elected Lieutenant Governor, and in 1986, in the series final episodes, he ran against his mentor Governor Gatling for the governorship itself, with his new fiancée Senator Diane Hartford serving as his campaign manager.
The outcome of the election was never revealed, but one thing was clear, Benson the insolent butler had come a long way.
Benson held centre stage on television for nine years. As Benson, Robert Guillaume won two Emmys, the first for Best Supporting Actor for his work in Soap in 1979. The second came in 1985 for Best Actor in a Comedy.
A young Jerry Seinfeld featured briefly (in an early TV appearance) as a Capitol Hill golfer who kept trying to sell the governor bad jokes. The character was a terrible idea and Jerry only lasted for a handful of episodes.
Governor James Gatling
Lewis J. Stadlen
Clayton Endicott III
Denise Stevens Downey
Senator Diane Hartford