The adventurous life of Billy Dee Williams

The adventurous life of Billy Dee Williams

On Valentine’s Day, the iconic Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture in Harlem provided the ideal setting for admirers of Billy Dee Williams to express their adoration. At 86 years old, Williams is known for portraying the quintessential romantic male lead in movies such as “Lady Sings the Blues” alongside Diana Ross in 1972 and “Mahogany” three years later. He stated that he deliberately chose to portray a romantic character on screen.

Was it a conscious choice to portray yourself as a romantic symbol? “Yes, it was. I have always desired to be seen that way. When I was younger, I would tell my mother that I wanted to be like Rudolph Valentino!”



Williams expanded his repertoire beyond Rudolph Valentino to include a dash of Errol Flynn, portraying a charming swashbuckler in a cape in “The Empire Strikes Back.” This famous line, “Hello, what have we here?” was ultimately chosen as the title for his latest memoir, which delves into both his public and personal life. In the book, he recounts his close bond with James Baldwin, behind-the-scenes conversations with Laurence Olivier, and his fondness for being in love. He confesses, “I had a weakness for love and romance. The first exchange of glances, a flirtatious smile, a seductive walk, a playful touch. That was my melody.”

“What is This?” by Billy Dee Williams

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Aria Shavelson produced the story, which was edited by Mike Levine.