April 6, 1937 William December “Billy Dee” Williams, Jr., actor and artist, was born in New York City.
Williams graduated from Manhattan’s School of Performing Arts and first appeared on Broadway in 1945 in “The Firebrand of Florence.” Other Broadway appearances include “A Taste of Honey” (1961), “I Have a Dream” (1976), and “Fences” (1988). He made his film debut in 1959 in “The Last Angry Man” but his big break came in the television movie “Brian’s Song” (1971), for which he was nominated for an Emmy Award.
Other film roles include “Lady Sings the Blues” (1972), “Mahogany” (1975), and “Star Wars Episode V: The Empire Strikes Back” (1980) and “Star Wars VI: Return of the Jedi” (1983). Williams also attended the National Academy of Fine Arts and Design and in the late 1980s resumed painting. His work hangs in the National Portrait Gallery, The Smithsonian Institution, and The Schomburg Museum.
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