Treat Williams

Family tree of Treat Williams

Actor, Author, Aviator

AmericanBorn Richard Treat Williams

American actor, writer, and aviator

Born on December 1, 1951 in Rowayton, Connecticut , United States

Died on June 12, 2023 in Albany, New York , United States

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Richard Treat Williams Jr. (December 1, 1951 – June 12, 2023) was an American stage, film and television actor with a career that spanned five decades.
Williams rose to fame with starring roles in Miloš Forman's film version of the musical Hair and in Steven Spielberg's historical comedy 1941, both released in 1979. He appeared in many other films throughout his career, including The Eagle Has Landed (1976), Prince of the City (1981), Once Upon a Time in America (1984), Flashpoint (1984), Smooth Talk (1985), Dead Heat (1988), The Phantom (1996), The Devil's Own (1997), Deep Rising (1998), the Substitute franchise (1998–2001), The Deep End of the Ocean (1999), Miss Congeniality 2 (2005), and 127 Hours (2010).
On stage, Williams portrayed Danny Zuko in the original Broadway run of Grease (1972). He returned to Broadway in Over Here! (1974), Once in a Lifetime (1978), The Pirates of Penzance (1981), Love Letters (1989), and Follies (2001).
...   Richard Treat Williams Jr. (December 1, 1951 – June 12, 2023) was an American stage, film and television actor with a career that spanned five decades.
Williams rose to fame with starring roles in Miloš Forman's film version of the musical Hair and in Steven Spielberg's historical comedy 1941, both released in 1979. He appeared in many other films throughout his career, including The Eagle Has Landed (1976), Prince of the City (1981), Once Upon a Time in America (1984), Flashpoint (1984), Smooth Talk (1985), Dead Heat (1988), The Phantom (1996), The Devil's Own (1997), Deep Rising (1998), the Substitute franchise (1998–2001), The Deep End of the Ocean (1999), Miss Congeniality 2 (2005), and 127 Hours (2010).
On stage, Williams portrayed Danny Zuko in the original Broadway run of Grease (1972). He returned to Broadway in Over Here! (1974), Once in a Lifetime (1978), The Pirates of Penzance (1981), Love Letters (1989), and Follies (2001).


Early life and education
Williams was born in Stamford, Connecticut, on December 1, 1951, the son of Marian (née Andrew), an antiques dealer, and Richard Norman Williams, a corporate executive. He moved with his family to Rowayton, Connecticut, when he was three. His maternal great-great-great-grandfather was William Henry Barnum, a U.S. senator from Connecticut and third cousin of the showman P. T. Barnum. Williams was a distant relative of both Robert Treat Paine—a signatory to the Declaration of Independence—and Herbert Hoover, the 31st President of the United States.
Williams played football in high school and college. He graduated from the Kent School in Connecticut and Franklin & Marshall College in Lancaster, Pennsylvania. As a teenager, he acted in high school and local theatre productions, and began to think seriously about an acting career during his first year of college: "I loved football very much, but I didn't think you could be a jock and be in the theatre company at the same time … I started to get serious about learning as much as possible about the craft of acting in my freshman year." At one point, he was performing in three college shows simultaneously: "a comedy, a Shakespeare and a musical".


Career


1972–1979: Stage work and film breakthrough
Williams launched his professional acting career in musical theatre; first as an understudy to several of the male leads in the 1972 Broadway production of Grease, and then in a touring production of that musical. From March 1974 to January 1975, he starred as Utah in the Sherman Brothers' musical Over Here!. He then returned to Grease on Broadway in the lead role of Danny Zuko for three years, later saying of the experience, "I had grown up learning all of the songs from West Side Story, so I was aware of what a big deal "Broadway" was. When I got my first little dressing room at the Royale Theatre … I thought, "I've arrived. I'm here. This is fantastic!" … there are Sunday matinees where you think, "I don't know how to get through this. I'm just not in the mood to go to that high-energy place". Still, every time [I'd] hear that audience out there [and I] could feel how excited they were … [afterwards] I would leave my dressing room and I'd walk across the stage and I would just stand there. I could feel that the air was still pulsating with the energy of the actors and the audience".
In 1975, Williams made his feature film debut with a supporting role in the thriller Deadly Hero. He received positive notices the following year for his portrayal of Michael Brick—a squeaky-voiced private detective—in The Ritz, a farcical comedy based on the play of the same name, and next appeared in a small part in the British war film The Eagle Has Landed (1976). Williams came to worldwide attention in 1979 when he starred as George Berger—a leading member of a gang of flower children—in the Miloš Forman film Hair, based on the 1967 musical. Writing for the Sioux City Journal, critic Bob Thomas called it "a rare flight of creative imagination that widens the dimensions of the movie musical" and believed that Williams' performance "could not be better". In her mixed review for The New York Times, Janet Maslin wrote, "As his name might indicate, Treat Williams is one of the better things Hair has to offer … [he is] is the only one of the players who really suggests the spirit of euphoria upon which the original [stage production] meant to capitalize". Williams' performance earned him a nomination for the Golden Globe Award for New Star of the Year. His second film appearance of 1979 was the poorly reviewed Steven Spielberg war comedy 1941, in which he played Corporal Chuck Sitarski.


1980s roles
Throughout the next decade, Williams appeared in a variety of supporting and leading film roles, such as the adventure drama The Pursuit of D. B. Cooper (1981), in which he played the titular aircraft hijacker; the Sergio Leone crime epic Once Upon A Time In America (1984); action-thriller Flashpoint (1984); Peter Medak's The Men's Club (1986); and the cult horror-comedy Dead Heat (1988). His portrayal of Daniel Ciello—in Sidney Lumet's 1981 neo-noir crime drama Prince of the City—brought Williams his second Golden Globe nomination and some of the strongest reviews of his career, with Roger Ebert saying of his "demanding and gruelling" performance, "Williams is almost always onscreen, and almost always in situations of extreme stress, fatigue, and emotional turmoil. We see him coming apart before our eyes". In a retrospective review of the film published by Empire in 2000, Simon Braud wrote:

It's doubtful whether a better performance was committed to celluloid in 1981 than Treat Williams' portrayal of the tortured Danny Ciello. In a staggering feat of acting prowess, Williams essays a fundamentally good, yet deeply flawed, human being disintegrating under intolerable pressure with rare courage and intensity.

Williams starred as Stanley Kowalski in the 1984 television adaptation of A Streetcar Named Desire, earning his third Golden Globe nomination, and was nominated for the 1985 Independent Spirit Award for Best Male Lead for his portrayal of Arnold Friend in that year's Smooth Talk. In her review of Talk for The Washington Post, Rita Kempley wrote, "The [film's] mood grows progressively darker as Treat Williams, playing a trashy dreamboat, drives up in his LeMans convertible … Matching Dern in her stunning performance, Williams is in his best role since Prince of the City".


1990s–2006: Film, theatre, and Everwood
Between 1993 and 1994, Williams starred as cynical divorce attorney Jack Harold on the CBS sitcom Good Advice, which ran for two seasons and was unfavorably reviewed by critics, though some were complimentary of Williams' performance. His film credits throughout the mid-late 1990s included Things to Do in Denver When You're Dead (1995), Mulholland Falls (1996), The Devil's Own (1997), cult action-horror Deep Rising (1998), and The Deep End of the Ocean (1999). In 1996, he co-starred in the big-budget comic book adaptation The Phantom, with his character—villainous Xander Drax—trying his utmost to take over the world and kill the titular superhero. The film received mixed reviews, but many critics were impressed by the visuals and performances. Writing for the Chicago Sun-Times, Roger Ebert said he found the film "smashingly entertaining", adding, "Williams … is implacably evil … and also slick and oily in the best pulp tradition". That same year, his "messianic" work in The Late Shift, an HBO television film in which he portrayed real-life talent agent Michael Ovitz, was roundly praised by critics and earned him an Emmy Award nomination for Outstanding Supporting Actor.
In 1998, Williams starred as Karl Thomasson, an ally of the previous film's protagonist, in the straight-to-video action film The Substitute 2: School's Out. He continued the role with The Substitute 3: Winner Takes All (1999) and The Substitute: Failure Is Not an Option (2001). He returned to the stage in 1999, earning critical acclaim for his work as Portuguese fisherman Manuel in the off-Broadway production of Captains Courageous, the Musical. Next, he appeared as Buddy in the Broadway revival of Stephen Sondheim's Follies (April–July 2001), and co-starred in the Woody Allen-directed satire Hollywood Ending (2002), with Elvis Mitchell of The New York Times calling his portrayal of film studio boss Hal Jaeger "frightening and impressive". His next major film role was that of egotistical FBI boss Walter Collins in the big-budget action comedy Miss Congeniality 2: Armed and Fabulous (2005).
Between 2002 and 2006, Williams played the lead role of Dr. Andrew Brown on the WB's Everwood, a drama series about a widowed neurosurgeon moving from New York City to Colorado with his two children. The show garnered critical acclaim and a devoted following during its four-season run, with Williams being nominated twice for the Screen Actors Guild Award for Outstanding Performance by a Male Actor (2003; 2004). He later said of his time on the show, "I was a big fan of all the Frank Capra movies … and I thought Greg Berlanti wrote a Capra-esque show … It was just so full of love and good people and surprises and dealing with real life stuff that hadn't been dealt with on the networks before … I have extraordinarily warm feelings about it … I'm glad other people are discovering it because I think it's probably the best television series I was ever on". Between July and November 2006, he made several appearances on the first season of ABC's Brothers & Sisters, playing David Morton, a friend and potential suitor of protagonist Nora Walker.


2007–2023: Final years
In 2007, Williams starred as Nathaniel Grant in the short-lived TNT series Heartland, which was cancelled during its first-season run, and played real-life convicted murderer Michael Peterson in the Lifetime movie The Staircase Murders. Variety's Laura Fries found his performance in the latter to be "effectively enigmatic". His film credits during this time included Pupi Avati's The Hideout (2007), romantic comedy What Happens in Vegas (2008), independent drama Howl (2010), and Danny Boyle's Oscar-nominated biographical drama 127 Hours (2010), in which he played the father of canyon climber Aron Ralston.

In 2010, Williams authored the children's book Air Show!, which was published by Disney-Hyperion. Aimed at ages 6–9, it documents an air show with text and illustrations. Williams told Publishers Weekly that the idea for the book came about after attending an air show with his children and seeing the excitement it brought them, especially his daughter: "In the book, [the character] Ellie is the more knowledgeable of the two children, with a real desire to fly ... When I was a kid, books about airplanes were considered 'boy' books. I thought it would be wonderful to empower a little girl with this love of flight".
Williams went on to appear in numerous feature films between 2012 and 2021, including Deadfall (2012), Brazilian drama Reaching for the Moon (2013), Andrew Fleming's Barefoot (2014), romantic comedy Second Act (2018), Drunk Parents (2019), action thriller Run Hide Fight (2020), and the sports drama 12 Mighty Orphans (2021), in which he portrayed Amon G. Carter. Additionally, his performance in the 2018 drama The Etruscan Smile—an adaptation of José Luis Sampedro's novel—was met with praise, with Frank Scheck of The Hollywood Reporter believing that he brought "admirable gravitas" to his role as wealthy patriarch Frank Barron. He also appeared in various television films during this period, such as the acclaimed political thriller Confirmation (2016), playing U.S. senator Ted Kennedy; Hallmark's The Christmas House (2020), which drew attention for being the channel's first Christmas film to feature a same-sex couple; and the Netflix musical comedy Christmas on the Square (2020),
which won the 2021 Primetime Emmy Award for Outstanding Television Movie.
Williams played the principal role of Mick O'Brien on the Hallmark series Chesapeake Shores from 2016 until its final episode, which aired in October 2022. His other television appearances during the 2010s–2020s included recurring roles on White Collar (2012–2013) as Samuel Phelps; Chicago Fire (2013–2018) as Benny Severide; and Blue Bloods (2016–2023) as Lenny Ross, the former police partner of character Frank Reagan. At the time of his death in June 2023, Williams had completed filming the role of Bill Paley—co-founder of CBS—in Capote vs. The Swans, the second season of anthology series Feud. Created by Ryan Murphy for FX, the show was directed by Gus Van Sant and premiered in January 2024 to positive reviews, with Vulture's Jackson McHenry saying of Williams: "Treat Williams, in his last filmed performance ... is both warm and brutally chauvinistic — by far the best work in the show".


Accolades
His portrayal of Dr. "Andy" Brown on the WB's Everwood (2002–2006) earned him two nominations for the Screen Actors Guild Award for Outstanding Performance in a Drama Series (2003, 2004). Over his career he earned additional nominations for Golden Globe, Primetime Emmy, and Independent Spirit Awards.
For his portrayals of Stanley Kowalski in A Streetcar Named Desire (1984) and Michael Ovitz in The Late Shift (1996), Williams received nominations for the Golden Globe Award for Best Actor in a TV Film and the Emmy Award for Outstanding Supporting Actor, respectively. Subsequent television work included recurring roles on White Collar (2012–2013), Chicago Fire (2013–2018), and Blue Bloods (2016–2023). He also starred as Mick O'Brien on the Hallmark series Chesapeake Shores (2016–2022) and as Bill Paley in the FX miniseries Feud: Capote vs. The Swans (2024), the latter being his final appearance on screen.


Personal life and death
Williams lived in Park City, Utah, and Manchester Center, Vermont, with his wife, actress and producer Pam Van Sant (m. 1988), and their two children, Gill and Ellie.
In 1969, Williams' high school football coach, who was also a flight instructor, offered to train him in a Piper PA-18 Super Cub. At age 21, Williams became a private aircraft pilot. He later became an FAA instrument-rated commercial pilot with ratings in both single engine and multi-engine airplanes, as well as rotorcraft. He held a type rating for Cessna Citation jets. He was certified as a flight instructor. Williams owned a Piper J-3 Cub, Piper Cherokee 28-180, Piper Seneca II, and a Piper Navajo Chieftain, which was used for family travel between homes.
Williams learned to scuba dive in 1982 along with then-girlfriend Dana Delany while they spent time on Martha's Vineyard. They both became PADI certified divers.


Struggle with addiction
Williams was open about his struggles with drug addiction during the 1980s, which he believed hampered his career at a time when he was being called an "up-and-coming Pacino or De Niro". Speaking in 1995, he said: "[My film career] was stopped by my lack of focus and use of cocaine. I mean, I wanted to party more than I wanted to focus on my work … You don't realize, unfortunately, until later on how fleeting fame and power in Hollywood are … I screwed it up, and I think you have to be true about these things to move on. Otherwise you've always got that little skeleton". He added: "I think in a way your life goes where it needs to go, and maybe I needed [to] go through what I went through to grow up so I could be the actor that I'm really meant to be — the clear-headed guy that I want to be in my work and not somebody who's living life in the fast lane".


Death
On June 12, 2023, Williams was involved in a motorcycle crash on Vermont Route 30, in Dorset. According to the Vermont State Police, a 2008 Honda Element in the southbound lane turned into the path of Williams's motorcycle in the northbound lane, and Williams was unable to avoid colliding with it. He was airlifted to Albany Medical Center, where he was pronounced dead at the age of 71. The cause of death was "severe trauma and blood loss," according to medical examiner. Williams was wearing a helmet at the time of the accident.
On March 8, 2024, 35-year-old Ryan Koss, the driver of the car that hit Williams, pleaded guilty to a reduced charge of negligent driving resulting in death. Sentencing was deferred for a year, and Koss was required to undergo mental health counseling and a restorative justice program. Koss knew Williams and had called his wife after the crash.


Posthumous tributes
In September 2023, Williams received a posthumous Lifetime Achievement Award at the Boston Film Festival during recognition of the film American Outlaws (2023), in which he appeared. On March 1, 2024, Blue Bloods dedicated its latest episode, "Fear No Evil", to Williams. At the end of the fourth episode—"It's Impossible"—of Feud: Capote vs. The Swans (2024), a title card paid tribute to Williams' life.
On April 24, 2024, Williams' family announced a Memorial event celebrating the life and work of Treat Williams at Southern Vermont Arts Center (SVAC) in Manchester, Vermont on June 9th.


Acting credits


Film


Television


Theatre


Accolades


References


External links
Treat Williams at IMDb
Treat Williams at the Internet Broadway Database
Treat Williams at the Internet Off-Broadway Database
Treat Williams discography at Discogs
Son of Treat Williams speaks at Koss sentencing hearing on WPTZ



Biography from Wikipedia (see original) under licence CC BY-SA 3.0

 

Geographical origins

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