Van Williams, star of the 1966 TV show “The Green Hornet,” passed away at his home in Scottsdale, Ariz. He died from kidney failure. Mr. Williams was 82.
The Texas-born son of a cattle rancher, was a diving instructor in Hawaii when he was discovered in 1957 by producer Mike Todd, who was married to Elizabeth Taylor at the time. Williams was persuaded to come to Hollywood and try his hand at acting, and earned his big break on the ABC private detective show “Bourbon Street Beat.” He played Ken Madison, a character he later recycled for another detective show, “Surfside 6.”
In 1966, Williams signed a deal with 20th Century Fox to star in “The Green Hornet” as both the titular masked crusader and his newspaper editor alter ego, Britt Reid. He was ably supported by his martial arts master sidekick Kato, played by Bruce Lee, and by his weaponized car, Black Beauty. Williams played the role straight, signaling a departure from the lampoon comedy of Fox’s earlier “Batman” series.
Williams later appeared in iconic shows such as “The Beverly Hillbillies” and “The Dick Van Dyke Show,” as well as in the young adult-targeted “Westwind,” which centered around the adventures of the Andrews family who sailed around the world on a yacht.
After his acting career dropped off in the late 1970s, Williams became a reserve deputy sheriff and a volunteer fire fighter at the Malibu station of the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department.
“He had a wonderful, caring, and kind heart. He was a wonderful husband, he was a fabulous father, and a devoted grandfather.”
Williams is survived by Vicki, his wife of 57 years, and three daughters.
Rest In Peace and thanks for the memories…