Anson Williams

Active - 1973 - 1992  |   Born - Sep 25, 1949 in Los Angeles, California, United States  |   Genres - Comedy, Science Fiction, Drama

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The "watershed moment" for American actor Anson Williams arrived in February 1972. On a seemingly minor and inconsequential note, Williams -- then a 22-year-old, aspiring actor -- signed to appear opposite TV vet Ron Howard on a one-shot episode of the anthology series Love, American Style. Entitled "Love and the Happy Days," the segment featured two characters named Richie and Potsie -- a rather conservative teen and his "experienced" pal, attending high school together and coming of age in 1950s Milwaukee. The ratings for that episode rocketed off the charts, and prompted series producers to spin off a sitcom entirely devoted to the said adolescent friendship. And yet, though Happy Days premiered in January 1974 and ran for 11 seasons to consistently sensational ratings (virtually becoming an American pop-culture phenomenon), Williams and the Potsie character soon paled in comparison to the dynamism of Henry Winkler's rebel Fonzie -- carrying the show off in a much different direction than that originally intended.

Williams nevertheless stuck with Happy Days through the end of its tenth season, and continued to pursue additional roles, though subsequent efforts (such as a turn in the dull telemovie I Married a Centerfold) never even came close to generating as much exposure as Days. Perhaps for this reason, Williams (like Henry Winkler, in fact) stepped behind the camera and began helming television projects -- initially, prime-time feature soapers (Little White Lies, All-American Murder), then, as the years rolled on, episodes of hit series including Xena: Warrior Princess, Hercules: The Legendary Journeys, and Star Trek: Voyager. In the early 2000s, Williams also directed episodes of the popular Disney Channel series Lizzie McGuire, starring Hilary Duff.

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  • Is the cousin of Henry Heimlich, the physician who invented the Heimlich maneuver.
  • Sang and danced alongside John Amos in a 1971 McDonald's commercial.
  • Transitioned from acting to behind-the-scenes jobs such as writing and producing, and in 1985 he took the advice of his Happy Days costar Ron Howard and began directing.
  • After getting exposure as a singer on Happy Days, he embarked on a singing career, releasing a single and co-headlining shows in Las Vegas and Reno.
  • Opened a chain of diners called Big Al's with his former Happy Days costar Al Molinaro.
  • Founded Physicians Prefer, a company devoted to creating drug-free products, and Starmaker Products, a cosmetics company.
  • Has five daughters.