Singer/Songwriter/Actor, Paul Williams
Paul Hamilton Williams, Jr.(born September 19, 1940 is an American composer, singer-songwriter, director, and actor. He is what the entertainment industry calls a "quadruple threat," because he is at least prificient at five industry professions. But real quickly, here's a shot of how many of us remember him from back in the day: Paul is the guy on the left.
My earliest memories of Williams is from his songs I heard on the radio as a child. Then I remember him on various talk shows and variety shows. Then, before I was even a teen, I was shocked and intrigued when I saw the movie, "Phantom of the Paradise," in which he performed the music for the musical based on The Phantom of the Opera. Wow! I saw the movie and watched intently only for his scenes three times on tv by the time I was 14.
So without any further babbling, here is an awesome article/interview and links I found that are very encouraging and informative, because I found he is a great voice for recovering addictions, which I am a fan of, and he is actively involved still, in musical arts. And I feel blessed to have had a curiosity that is not mere coincidence. But it is timely, that if not for a simple reminder to pray for someone for some reason I have no idea why, I get a chance to experience the thrill of learning about someone who I've admired since childhood. And I'll be 50 on March 11 and I'm still intrigued by people's meaningful life's exploits. Enjoy.
4.24.2013, 06:04 PM
Paul Williams is a 'Loved One' – overcoming substance abuse to hit the high notes
TOM DWORETZKY/ NEW YORK DAILY NEWS
Williams talks about gratitude and recovery at the Cafe Carlyle.
Paul Williams says he has lived a blessed life and is grateful.
Not so much because of his many successes as an actor, singer and songwriter – but because he has been given a second chance.
You wouldn't know his troubles from screaming headlines, though. Williams was lucky to have never became tabloid fodder.
"The fact is I did rehab twice and was never 'outed' by the press," he says.
"By the time I got sober I was hardly the high profile performer I'd been," he continues. He had somehow managed to keep it under wraps, at least in public at the height of fame. "I did 'The Tonight Show' with Johnny Carson forty-eight times. I remember six!" he confesses.
"When my addiction to alcohol and cocaine outran my need to be in front of an audience I hid out. And drank. You know you're an alcoholic when you misplace a decade and I did."
He managed to pull out of the nosedive that claimed so many talents back in the 80s.
"I've been sober for twenty-three of the most amazing years of my life," he reveals. "And now, rather than being outed by the press, I'm happy and honored to speak at a public level about the gifts of recovery. It's a life blessing and I speak all over the world about addiction and the way out of that nightmare."
These days there are two things Williams is deeply passionate about, he stresses. "Recovery, for sure, and secondly, music creators' rights."
Four years ago Williams was elected president and chairman of the board of The American Society of Composers, Authors and Publishers, or ASCAP. "It's my honor to represent over 460,000 music creators and rights holders in their efforts to be fairly compensated for the music the world is listening to," he says.
Another high point, in a life filled with highs, both the good and bad kinds, is his recent show at the cafe.
TOM DWORETZKY/ NEW YORK DAILY NEWS
"Love Boat"? Oh yeah, Williams wrote that, too.
"I'll be at the Carlyle for two weeks performing on a stage baptized by the amazing Bobby Short. Now, do I have reason to be grateful or do I have reason to be grateful!" he says.
This reporter is grateful that he got a chance to catch up with Williams and pose a few questions to the legendary funnyman. After all, no one gets on Carson that many times without being able to crack up the late, great host:
News: Your first movie role showed your clear attraction to space exploration. Is this why you abandoned the arts in favor of a career in rocket science like your brother John? Is that why he became a rocket scientist? Actually, if you are interested in space, or science, feel free to comment.
Williams: The fact I played a boy genius who loved rockets was just a happy accident. My older brother Jack was an engineer that contributed to the space program. While the 60's were spent metaphorically in outer space by many of us .. we went to San Francisco wearing flowers in our hair and a variety of substances altering our consciousness ... my love affair was with movies. I started out as an actor and when that career failed that other door you hear about opened and led to a life making music that I'm eternally grateful for.
News: Seriously though, did working with the late great Jonathan Winters influence you personally or professionally, and if so how? Did he teach or did you learn anything specific from him. And do you have a story about the two of you that you would be willing to share?
Williams: One of the great perks to working in the entertainment business is getting to know your heroes. I was and am a huge fan of Jonathan's brilliant mind. On the set of The Loved One I followed him around like a puppy. Years later when he found out I was the Paul Williams who wrote songs that he'd been hearing about he was delighted. We remained friends thru the years and in fact had the same business manager. Talk about a man with real patience. Can you imagine having Jonathan and I as clients you're trying to teach to act and invest like responsible adults?
News: You have had an active career in acting as well as music. Do you prefer one over the other? Do they engage different parts of you?
Williams: They say 'dance with the one that brought you to the party'! For me that's music. I have a great love of film and once I had any reputation that would allow me to realistically seek specific work in the industry I gravitated to film. Beginning with Cinderella Liberty I was happy to write songs for movies that other people acted in. John Williams and I were nominated for best song that year although the Oscar went home with someone else. I've always loved writing for film but walking onto a set as an actor feels like the midwest dream come true. Lights, camera, action and ME? wow.
News: How is it different, if it is, for you creatively when you approach a role vs a song? Do you apply acting technique either in performance or the writing of music?
Williams: Yes, there are similarities in the way I approach writing a song. Especially if I'm writing for a character in a film that's a songwriter. Kris Kristopherson's John Norman Howard in "A Star Is Born" or Dustin Hoffman and Warren Beatty's Chuck and Lyle in Ishtar. Believe it or not that was a favorite writing assignment. I approached it like a method actor and went so far as to experience things their character experienced. I spent two nights alone in the Moroccan desert to write songs they were writing when lost there .. Of course, in those days, the mid eighties, I was pretty crazy.
News: Tell us about working with Mort Sahl the legendary comic and social critic at the height of his powers in the 1960s.
Williams: It's a bit of a stretch to say that I wrote for Mort Sahl. I wrote and acted in improvisational sketches on the Mort Saul show. The man was and is brilliant. He was one of the first people to write a check for acting or writing with my name on it.
TOM DWORETZKY/ NEW YORK DAILY NEWS
Paul Williams at the Cafe Carlyle says he is a lucky guy.
News: You are thought of as a child star...?
Williams: Well, in truth I wasn't a child star. In my early twenties I played kids in the movies. A couple of them anyway. The Chase with Marlon Brando for example. I was playing a 16 year old teenager when I was in my mid twenties. I started writing songs at twenty seven and my world changed.
News: What would you like to say to a new generation about your long-lived career, your success as a sex symbol and what you've seen change in the culture of celebrity and stardom over the last half-century from your vantage point as a star? Certainly things seem a bit more manufactured these days...although that might be just the romance of nostalgia... But it seems these days that first you do the sex tape and then you cash in with your own fragrance...
Williams: Sex symbol. Give me a moment to get over the giggles. The message I'd deliver is 'live your life with a sense of your own greatness. I'd quote the song Kenny Ascher and I wrote for the end of "The Muppet Movie" . an additional verse to "The Rainbow Connection".
"Life's like a movie, write your own ending. Keep believing, keep pretending. We've done just what we set out to do. Thanks to the lovers, the dreamers and You!"
In other words, you're thinking can deeply effect your future. Self worth is huge. Authenticity is mandatory for success. If you're a songwriter ... we don't need another David Bowie, or Bruno Mars or .. name your favorite. We need you. Your stories. Your brilliance. I live my life in Gratitude and Trust. Grateful for what I've had and Trusting that I'll have what I need in the future.
There's room for kindness in this world. Edge is entertaining. Yes. And I don't mean to get all Jimminy Cricket but, we can use gentle wisdom and actions. Be sweet. It pays of big time.
News: What are you working on these days? I know you have have just signed a deal with Penguin with your friend Tracey Jackson to write a book called "Gratitude and Trust: Recovery Is Not Just For Addicts.". What else? Albums, movies, etc. can we expect from you in the future?
Williams: "[The Book] is my first venture as an author and I'm excited to share our thoughts about how the recovery process that has saved my life might very well be a strong addition to the lifestyle of people with life limiting, as opposed to life threatening, habits," he explains.
We have a website, www.GratitudeAndTrust.com and that's "a new adventure as well. We both blog regularly and are building a following on Twitter. And @IMPaulWilliams is bringing out the short short story writer in me. It's a wonderful way to stay connected to our audience, friends and future readers.http://www.GratitudeAndTrust.com
Gustavo Santaolalla and I are writing songs for an animated film called 'The Book of Life' for Fox. We're also providing the songs for a new stage musical based on Guillermo Del Toro's brilliant "Pan's Labyrinth." Also, there are two songs on the new Daft Punk Album with my lyrics. One of which I sing.
You can find me on Twitter @TomByNite, where I tweet about the New York cabaret scene.