Born on February 27, 1934, in Fort Worth, Texas, handsome Van Williams didn't set out to be an actor. After completing his college studies, Williams headed for Hawaii, where he worked as a diver. He was discovered for films in Hawaii by producer Mike Todd in 1957. Todd was killed in a plane crash shortly thereafter, yet Williams eventually made his way to Hollywood. After some acting lessons and vocal coaching, Williams found work in television, and after a few guest spots, he signed a contract with Warner Bros. in early 1959.

Van WilliamsVan WilliamsVan WilliamsVan WilliamsVan Williams

Early 1960s beefcake photos, mostly from Warner Bros.

Warner Bros. quickly cast the handsome young actor in a new TV series titled Bourbon Street Beat (1959-1960). Although popular, the show was canceled, so Warner Bros. moved Williams and his character, Ken Madison, to a new series, Surfside 6. The studio also put Williams in a couple of movies, Tall Story (1960; with Anthony Perkins and Jane Fonda) and The Caretakers (1963; with Polly Bergen). After Williams' contract lapsed in 1964, he took a role on the series The Tycoon, and later signed with 20th Century Fox to portray The Green Hornet.

the films and tv series of van williams

Bourbon Street Beat (1959-1960 ABC TV Series)

Richard Long, Van Williams, Arlene Howell, and Andrew Duggan

From the ABC series Bourbon Street Beat, produced by Warner Bros. Pictured are Richard Long, Van Williams, Arlene Howell, and Andrew Duggan. Williams' character was incorporated into the series Surfside 6, following the cancellation of Bourbon Street Beat

Tall Story (1960)

Van WilliamsVan Williams, Jane Fonda, and Anthony Perkins

From the Warner Bros. farce Tall Story with Jane Fonda and Anthony Perkins

Surfside 6 (1960-1962 ABC TV Series)

Van WilliamsTroy Donahue, Lee Patterson, and Van WilliamsVan Williams and Grace Lee WhitneyMargarita Sierra, Troy Donahue, Lee Patterson, Diane McBain, and Van Williams

From the ABC series Surfside 6, produced by Warner Bros. LEFT: Williams as Ken Madison. CENTER A: With costars Troy Donahue and Lee Patterson. CENTER B: With Grace Lee Whitney in episode Count Seven, which originally aired on September 18, 1961. RIGHT: With Margarita Sierra, Troy Donahue, Lee Patterson, and Diane McBain

The Caretakers (1963)

Susan Oliver, Van Williams, and Janis PaigeVan Williams, Polly Bergen, and Robert StackConstance Ford and Van Williams

From the gritty hospital drama The Caretakers. LEFT: With Susan Oliver and Janis Paige. CENTER: With Polly Bergen and Robert Stack. RIGHT: With Constance Ford

The Green Hornet (1966-1967 ABC TV Series)

Van Williams and Bruce LeeVan Williams and Bruce LeeVan Williams and Bruce Lee

Images from Williams' 1966 TV series The Green Hornet. LEFT: Williams as Britt Reid alongside Bruce Lee as Kato. CENTER: Williams as The Green Hornet, with Lee as Kato. RIGHT: Lee and Williams camp it up in this promotional photo

Batman (1966-1968 ABC TV Series)

Adam West and Van WilliamsVan Williams and Adam West

LEFT: Williams as the Green Hornet with Batman star Adam West from the episode titled A Piece of the Action, which originally aired March, 1, 1967. RIGHT: With Adam West in a 1966 ABC photo

later years

Following the 1967 cancellation of The Green Hornet, Williams' career slowed. He stayed active doing guest appearances on such television shows as Love, American Style, Gunsmoke, and Mission: Impossible, and landed another TV series in the 1970s, the short-lived Westwind. In the late 1970s, Williams left his acting career behind to focus on his business interests. Sadly, Williams passed away from kidney failure on November 28, 2016, at the age of 82. He is survived by wife Vicki and their three daughters.

van williams films available from


Dragon: The Bruce Lee Story (1993) with Jason Scott Lee, Lauren Holly, Robert Wagner, Michael Learned, and Nancy Kwan
The Night Rider (1979) with David Selby, Kim Cattrall, George Grizzard, Anna Lee, and Pernell Roberts
Fury of the Dragon (1976) with Bruce Lee
The Runaways (1975) with Dorothy McGuire
Batman (1966) with Adam West, Burt Ward, Lee Meriwether, Cesar Romero, Burgess Meredith, Frank Gorshin, Alan Napier, Neil Hamilton, and Stafford Repp
The Caretakers (1963) with Robert Stack, Polly Bergen, Diane McBain, Joan Crawford, Janis Paige, Constance Ford, and Susan Oliver
Tall Story (1960) with Anthony Perkins, Jane Fonda, Ray Walston, and Tom Laughlin

Centennial, 1978 NBC miniseries. Williams portrayed George. Also in the cast were Raymond Burr, Robert Conrad, Jorge Rivero, Marshall Thompson, Clint Walker, and Reb Brown
How the West Was Won, 1978 miniseries
Westwind, 1975-1976 TV series. Williams portrayed Steve Andrews
The Green Hornet, 1966-1967 ABC TV series. Williams portrayed Britt Reid, the Green Hornet
The Tycoon, 1964-1965 TV series. Williams portrayed Pat Burns
Surfside 6, 1960-1962 ABC TV series. Williams portrayed Ken Madison. Also in the cast were Troy Donahue, Diane McBain, and Lee Patterson
Bourbon Street Beat, 1959-1960 ABC TV series. Williams portrayed Ken Madison. Also in the cast were Richard Long and Nita Talbot

The Rockford Files, episode Love Is the Word, originally aired November 9, 1979
Mrs. Columbo, episode The Valley Strangler, originally aired November 8, 1979
Barnaby Jones, episode Circle of Treachery, originally aired March 3, 1977
Tales of the Unexpected, episode Devil Pack, originally aired February 16, 1977
The Streets of San Francisco, episode The Thrill Killers: Parts 1 and 2, originally aired September 30 and October 7, 1976
Bert D'Angelo/Superstar, episode Scag, originally aired June 26, 1976
The Manhunter, episode To Kill a Tiger, originally aired February 26, 1975
Gunsmoke, episode Thirty a Month and Found, originally aired October 7, 1974
Apple's Way, episode The Lamb, originally aired May 19, 1974
Mission: Impossible, episode The Deal, originally aired September 30, 1972
Ironside, episode The Gambling Game, originally aired October 5, 1971
Nanny and the Professor, episode The Visitor, originally aired December 4, 1970
Love, American Style, episode Love and the Minister/Love and the Singles Apartment, originally aired March 27, 1970
Mannix, episode The Search for Darrell Andrews, originally aired February 28, 1970
The Big Valley, episode Rimfire, originally aired February 16, 1968
Batman, episode Batman's Satisfaction, originally aired March 2, 1967
Batman, episode A Piece of the Action, originally aired March 1, 1967
The Beverly Hillbillies, episode The Courtship of Elly, originally aired November 3, 1965
The Dick Van Dyke Show, episode No Rice at My Wedding, originally aired October 13, 1965
Temple Houston, episode Ten Rounds for Baby, originally aired January 30, 1964
Hawaiian Eye, episode Two Million Too Much, originally aired February 26, 1963
The Gallant Men, episode The Leathernecks, originally aired February 2, 1963
77 Sunset Strip, episode Tarnished Idol, originally aired January 11, 1963
Cheyenne, episode Vengeance Is Mine, originally aired November 26, 1962
77 Sunset Strip, episode Hot Tamale Caper: Parts 1 and 2, originally aired May 27 and June 2, 1961
Colt .45, episode The Sanctuary, originally aired May 10, 1959
Lawman, episode The Young Toughs, originally aired April 12, 1959
G.E. True Theater, episode Bill Bailey Won't You Please Come Home?, originally aired January 25, 1959
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This page premiered December 12, 2003.