The man known to an entire generation as Lando Calrissian, the suave and morally questionable smuggler from the “Star Wars” trilogy, grew up in Harlem, where he and his sister were raised by their grandmother. He graduated from the School of Performing Arts and got his start on Broadway.
His big break came in 1971, when he appeared alongside James Caan in the acclaimed TV movie “Brian’s Song.” Williams played a former football star helping his best friend struggle with terminal cancer. Both Williams and Caan earned Emmy nominations for the film.
Williams earned screen immortality with his appearance in the second “Star Wars” film, “The Empire Strikes Back” in 1980. His role as Lando, the guy who originally owned the Millennium Falcon and was responsible for getting Han Solo frozen in carbonite, gave Williams a bad boy, ladies man reputation for the entirety of his career.
After “Star Wars: Return of the Jedi” (1983), Williams became a highly visible pitchman for Colt 45 malt liquor and returned to his early love of painting. His paintings now hang in the Smithsonian and the National Portrait Gallery.
Williams has made notable guest appearances on many TV shows, such as “Lost” and “Scrubs,” often with a winking nod to his “Star Wars” legacy. He also had a recurring role on “General Hospital” in 2009.
Williams has been married three times. He has one daughter and one stepdaughter with his current wife, Teruko Nakagami, and a son with his first wife.