Paul Williams

Active - 1965 - 2020  |   Born - Sep 19, 1940   |   Genres - Drama, Comedy, Children's/Family, Action, Romance

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Biography by Hal Erickson

Diminutive musical prodigy Paul Williams worked as an apprentice jockey, professional skydiver and insurance salesman before turning to acting. Williams' size and puckish countenance enabled him to play adolescents well into his twenties; one of the best of his early film roles was the surly teenaged genius in The Loved One (1965). Though he kept a hand in acting throughout the 1970s, he was better known for his songwriter accomplishments. Working with such collaborators as Biff Rose, Roger Nichols and Charles Fox, he turned out such enduring song hits as The Carpenters' "We've Only Just Begun," Helen Reddy's "You and Me Against the World," Three Dog Night's "Old Fashioned Love Song" and Dionne Warwick's "That's What Friends Are For." In films, Williams was Oscar nominated for his musical contributions to 1974's Phantom of the Paradise (in which he also starred), 1975's Bugsy Malone and 1979's The Muppet Movie. In 1976, Williams and collaborator Barbra Streisand won an Academy Award for the hit tune "Evergreen," the highlight of the Streisand remake of A Star is Born. As mentioned, Williams was never too busy to accept an occasional acting role. He played Little Enos in the first two Smokey and the Bandit movies, camped it up as Dr. Miguelito Loveless Jr. in the 1979 TV movie The Wild Wild West Returns, and could be heard as the voice of the Penguin in TV's Batman: The Animated Series (1992). Paul Williams was also a popular guest on talk shows, quiz programs and variety series.

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