Sunday, September 18, 2011


In many respects, the 1970s were very kind to Paul Williams. His image was unforgettable: vertically challenged with a shoulder length, blond shag framing a face that hid behind ever-present, tinted, aviator glasses.


Making Johnny Carson crack up, co-hosting The Mike Douglas Show, guesting on The Love Boat, singing “Rainbow Connection” with Kermit the Frog, picking up armloads of Grammys, cracking wise on The Hollywood Squares...Christ, he even had his own show at one point.

It wasn't all about starring in Smokey and the Bandit movies, though.

Williams had a rare gift for turning out hit songs. He scored an Oscar for "Evergreen" and five additional nominations (including one for The Muppet Movie's "Rainbow Connection") and co-wrote The Love Boat theme for the small screen. Add to this a string of pop hits like The Carpenters' "Rainy Days and Mondays", "We've Only Just Begun", and Three Dog Night's "Old Fashioned Love Song" to name only a few examples and you begin to envision a mountain of publishing royalties that could sustain a person through several comfortable lifetimes.

Then he just vanished.

Hard core drug and alcohol addiction was the lesser known side to Williams' wild ride through the seventies and eighties. Director Stephen Kessler, fascinated with the performer who was his childhood idol, had assumed that Williams had died. Turns out he was very much alive, 20 years sober after facing down his demons and very different from the slick TV stalwart whom Kessler had once adored. The director spent more than two years traveling with and filming Williams. The result?

Paul Williams Still Alive

Williams turns 71 today and is very grateful that he's around to see this film. For others who had walked the same path, this would be a posthumous exploration of their career. The documentary has earned critical praise on initial screenings and will likely renew interest in Williams' work.

Here's a recent interview with the man himself.

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