Appeared in films, including The Loved One,1965, The Chase,1966, Watermelon Man,1970, Battle for the Planet of the Apes,1973, Phantom of the Paradise,1974, Smokey and the Bandit,1977, The Cheap Detective,1978, The Muppet Movie,1979, Smokey and the Bandit II,1980, Smokey and the Bandit III, c. 1983, and The Doors,1991. Appeared in plays, including Under the Sycamore Tree at the Magnolia Theater in California, 1961, and Tru on Broadway, in New York City, 1989. Appeared on television shows, including The Tonight Show, The Odd Couple, Wild, Wild West Revisited, Hawaii 5-0, The Love Boat, Fantasy Island, The Fall Guy, and Midnight Special. Scored and/or composed songs for films, including The Getaway,1972, The Man Who Loved Cat Dancing,1972, Cinderella Liberty,1973, Phantom of the Paradise,1974, The Day of the Locust,1975, Malone,1976, A Star Is Born,1976, One on One,1977, The End,1978, Agatha,1979, The Muppet Movie,1979, and The Secret of NIMH,1982. Scored or wrote music for television shows, including The Love Boat, The McLean Stevenson Show, It Takes Two, Sugar Time! and Emmet Otter's Jug Band Christmas.
AWARDS: Academy Award nomination for best song, for "Nice to Be Around," from the film Cinderella Liberty,1973
Academy Award nomination for best score, for the film Phantom of the Paradise,1974
Academy Award, Grammy Award, and Golden Globe Award for best song, for "Evergreen," from the film A Star Is Born,1976
Golden Globe Award for best score, for the film A Star Is Born,1976
Academy Award nomination and Grammy nomination for the score of The Muppet Movie,1979
Multitalented songwriter, singer, and actor Paul Williams is perhaps best known for scoring the 1976 film A Star Is Born, and collaborating with Barbra Streisand to write the love theme from that film, "Evergreen." He earned several awards for that work, as well as many award nominations for his efforts on other film scores, including Cinderella Liberty and The Muppet Movie. In addition, Williams has provided music fans with many sweet-sounding ballads over the years, including "We've Only Just Begun" and "Just an Old-Fashioned Love Song."
Paul Hamilton Williams was born September 19, 1940, in Omaha, Nebraska. His father was an architectural engineer who pursued various construction projects throughout the Midwest, so the future entertainer traveled a great deal as a child. In addition to the usual social misfortunes that go with always being new at school, Williams also had to deal with the stigma associated with his shorter stature--he described the other children's attitude towards him thus to Tony Kornheiser in the Washington Post: "New kid. Smaller--hey, let's whack him."
When Paul was 13, his father was killed in an automobile accident, and he went to live with an aunt and uncle in Long Beach, California, where he spent the remainder of his adolescence. On the way to his new home, however, he had the opportunity to see a show in Las Vegas, Nevada; this experience solidified his desire--perhaps first sparked by childhood competition in local talent shows--to become an entertainer. While attending a Long Beach high school, he developed an interest in drama, appeared in many school plays, and was vice-president of the institution's Thespian Club. After graduating, Williams wandered for a while and eventually came to rest in Albuquerque, New Mexico, where he became a featured member of the community theater. He appeared in plays such as A Thousand Clowns and William Shakespeare's A Midsummer Night's Dream.
By 1960, however, Williams had come back to Long Beach, where he joined the slightly more prestigious repertory company Studio 58. During some of his performances with them, such as one in Under the Sycamore Tree, he received favorable attention from critics in Los Angeles, California, and this encouraged him to go to Hollywood in pursuit of a film career. He did find one, but it was small--he received only minor roles during the 1960s and 1970s, in pictures that were generally panned by the critics. As Williams began to despair of becoming a respected actor, however, he turned to other forms of expression. Comedian Mort Sahl hired him to write skits for a local television program; through this job, he met Biff Rose, a composer who needed a lyricist.
Paul began collaborating with Rose, and the result was "Fill Your Heart," a ballad that eventually found itself on the B-side of novelty singer Tiny Tim's hit, "Tiptoe Through the Tulips." Tiny Tim's producer suggested that Williams, who had previously learned to play the guitar, form his own band. He did, called it Holy Mackerel, and released an album on Reprise Records that attracted virtually no attention from fans. Reprise--and its parent company Warner Brothers--believed in Williams, however, and he released a solo effort in 1970 called Someday Man. This disc, too, was met with silence from music audiences.
Soon afterwards, however, Williams signed on as a songwriter for A&M Records. With composer Roger Nichols, he started writing songs for other artists, including Johnny Mathis and Claudine Longet. Then they started racking up hits. Their first huge success was the song "Out in the Country," which scored a hit when recorded by Three Dog Night. Their "Rainy Days and Mondays," recorded by the Carpenters, became quite popular as well. Williams and Nichols were also contracted to compose music for a bank commercial advertising their special services for newlyweds. Williams explained to Henry Edwards in After Dark: "Since I am an incurable romantic, I fell in love with the idea of making a sugary commercial about a young couple getting married." Apparently, audiences responded to William's inspiration so favorably that he and Nichols decided to expand the jingle into a full-length song. The result, "We've Only Just Begun," became a massive hit for the Carpenters, and has since become a ballad standard, recorded by many other artists.
Encouraged by his success, Williams began recording his own albums for the A&M label, starting with An Old-Fashioned Love Song. This, along with follow-up efforts such as 1972's Life Goes On and 1974's A Little Bit of Love and Here Comes Inspiration, fared much better with fans than did Williams's earlier recordings. He began performing on variety shows and in the better nightclubs, and while many dismissed his songs as too sentimental, most conceded along with Los Angeles Times reviewer Terry Atkinson that Williams was a very good musical entertainer in person, "with an appealing blend of unpretentiousness and effective dramatic sense."
In 1974 Williams was invited by film director Brian De Palma to score much of his musical update of The Phantom of the Opera, entitled Phantom of the Paradise. Williams also acted in the film, but received the most notice for his work on the music, earning an Academy Award nomination. In 1976 he had even greater success with his work on the film A Star Is Born. With various other composers, Williams wrote the lyrics to the motion picture's songs "Watch Closely Now," "The Woman in the Moon," "With One More Look at You," "Everything," and the now-classic love theme "Evergreen." He garnered a Golden Globe Award for the film's score, another for "Evergreen," and a Grammy and an Academy Award for "Evergreen." Other films he's written music for include Cinderella Liberty, The End, and The Muppet Movie.
During the 1970s and early 1980s, Paul found himself in demand for character roles in many motion pictures, including the Smokey and the Bandit movies and playwright Neil Simon's The Cheap Detective. He also released more albums, including Ordinary Fools, Classics, and Crazy for Loving You. Many of these efforts featured his music from films. He also wrote both scripts and music for television programs. In 1989, Williams appeared on the Broadway stage in the title role of the play Tru, a one-man show about the late author Truman Capote. Before he performed, he told Richard Leivenberg in Harper's Bazaar: "I am not simply going to put on a hat and mince around. I want to crawl inside the man and have people be moved by him, so by the end of the evening they will miss his presence as much as I do."
Paul Williams is committed to sobriety.
He's on M.A.P's Advisory Board
He's also on their staff, where he
functions as a licensed drug counselor.
MAP, stands for Musicians Assitance Program
MAP makes it possible for members of
the music industry to receive treatment
for drug and alcohol addiction,
regardless of their financial condition.
MAP gives these men and women a chance
to get their lives back.
Phone: 1-888 MAP MAP1
M.A.P Home Page> M.A.P Donations>
Paul Williams is on the Advisory Board of
Community High School, Nashville Tennessee
"Sober Teens...Caring Educators"
Community High School's mission is to provide
a safe and drug-free environment for
students in grades 9 through 12 to pursue
a high school diploma while in voluntary
recovery from alcohol and drug addiction
Nashville Community High School Home Page: NCHS Home Page>Nashville Community High School Donations Page: NCHS Donations> Or you can send your donations to:
P.O. Box 100425
Nashville, TN 37224
Phone: (615) 248-8206 for more information
Please designate #2852 on your United Way Pledge Card
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