Van Williams


About

Also Known As
Van Zandt Jarvis Williams
Born
February 27, 1934
Died
November 28, 2016

Biography

Van Williams was an American actor born on February 27, 1934 in Fort Worth, Texas. After attending Texas Christian University and studying animal husbandry and business, Williams moved to Hawaii. There, he was working as a diving instructor when he was discovered by producer Mike Todd, who was then married to Elizabeth Taylor. Todd urged Williams to move to Hollywood and take up acting, ...

Biography

Van Williams was an American actor born on February 27, 1934 in Fort Worth, Texas. After attending Texas Christian University and studying animal husbandry and business, Williams moved to Hawaii. There, he was working as a diving instructor when he was discovered by producer Mike Todd, who was then married to Elizabeth Taylor. Todd urged Williams to move to Hollywood and take up acting, which he did. He made his television and professional acting debut in the TV movie "King Richard II" (NBC, 1954) as an uncredited servant. After building a number of brief TV credits, Williams joined the main cast of a TV show, playing Ken Madison on detective series "Bourbon Street Beat" (ABC, 1959-1960), then a version of the same character on "Surfside 6" (ABC, 1960-62). Williams acted regularly over the course of the early '60s, popping up in other William T. Orr-created detective shows, and even "The Dick Van Dyke Show" (CBS, 1961-66) and "The Beverly Hillbillies" (CBS, 1962-1971) in 1965. Williams landed the role of his career when he played the title character on pulp hero action show "The Green Hornet" (ABC, 1966-67). He starred alongside an up-and-coming Bruce Lee as sidekick Kato. He also appeared in a few crossover episodes of ABC hero peer "Batman" (ABC, 1966-68) as the Green Hornet; eventually, he would be neighbors with "Batman" star Adam West in Ketchum, Idaho. After the cancellation of "The Green Hornet," Williams worked less and less, making episodic appearances and starring in the short-lived family series "Westwind" (NBC, 1975-76). He became disillusioned by acting, which he saw as a business move, and retired. Williams was a Reserve Deputy Sherriff and volunteer firefighter for Los Angeles County, and made his final screen appearance as a director of "The Green Hornet" in the biopic "Dragon: The Bruce Lee Story" (1993). Williams died from renal failure on November 28, 2016, at age 82, in Scottsdale, Arizona.

Life Events

1954

First screen-acting credit in TV movie "King Richard II" as Exton's Servant

1959

Breakthrough recurring television role as Kenny Madison on "Bourbon Street Beat"

1960

Reprised Ken Madison role on "Bourbon Street Beat" followup, "Surfside 6"

1964

Recurring role as Pat Burns on TV series "The Tycoon"

1965

Appeared in an episode of "The Dick Van Dyke Show"

1965

Made brief appearance on "The Beverly Hillbillies"

1966

Played super hero The Green Hornet, first on the "Batman" TV series, then as the starring character of "The Green Hornet" TV series

1975

Played Steve Andrews on TV series "Westwind"

1976

Recurring role of Captain MacAllister on "How the West Was Won"

1993

Final screen credit, in a cameo role as the "Green Hornet" director in "Dragon: The Bruce Lee Story"

Bibliography