Treat Williams Biography

Actor and director

Born Robert Treat Williams, December 1, 1951, in Rowayton, CT; married Pamela Van Sant; children: Gill, Eleanor Claire. Education: Attended Franklin and Marshall College.


Agent —United Talent Agency, 9560 Wilshire Blvd., 5th Floor, Beverly Hills, CA 90212. Home —Park City, Utah.


Actor on stage, including: Grease, 1973; Over Here; The Pirates of Penzance; Oleanna; Captains Courageous, 1999; Stephen Sondheim's Follies, 2001; War Letters, 2002.

Film appearances include: The Eagle Has Landed, 1976; The Ritz, 1976; Deadly Hero, 1976; 1941, 1979; The Empire Strikes Back (uncredited), 1980; Why Would I Lie?, 1980; The Pursuit of D.B. Cooper, 1981; Prince of the City, 1981; Faerie Tale Theatre, 1982; Once Upon a Time in America, 1984; Flashpoint, 1984; Smooth Talk, 1985; The Men's Club, 1986; Bermuda: Cave of the Sharks, 1987; Dead Heat, 1988; Sweet Lies, 1988; Heart of Dixie, 1989; The Third Solution, 1989; Beyond the Ocean, 1990; Where the Rivers Flow North, 1993; Hand Gun, 1994; Things to Do in Denver When You're Dead, 1995; The Taming Power of the Small, 1995; Mister Dog, 1995; Mulholland Falls, 1996; The Phantom, 1996; Cannes Man, 1996; The Devil's Own, 1997; Deep Rising, 1998; Deep End of the Ocean, 1999; Skeletons in the Closet, 2000; Critical Mass, 2000; Crash Point Zero, 2000; The Substitute: Failure Is Not An Option (straight–to–video), 2001; Venomous, 2001; The Circle, 2001; Gale Force (straight–to–video), 2002; Hollywood Ending, 2002.

Treat Williams

Television appearances include: Hair (movie), 1979; Dempsey (movie), 1983; A Streetcar Named Desire (movie), 1984; Some Men Need Help (movie), 1985; J. Edgar Hoover (movie), 1987; Echoes in the Darkness (movie), 1987; Third Degree Burn (movie), 1989; Drug Wars: The Camarena Story (miniseries), 1990; Max and Helen (movie), 1990; Eddie Dodd, 1991; Final Verdict (movie), 1991; Tales from the Crypt, 1992; Till Death Do Us Part, 1992; The Water Engine, 1992; Batman: The Animated Series (voice), 1992; Deadly Matrimony (movie), 1992; Bonds of Love (movie), 1993; Road to Avonlea, 1993; Good Advice, 1993; Parallel Lives (movie), 1994; Texan (movie), 1994; Vault of Horror I (movie), 1994; In the Shadow of Evil (movie), 1995; Johnny's Girl (movie), 1995; The Late Shift (movie), 1996; Escape: Human Cargo (movie), 1998; The Substitute 2: School's Out (movie), 1998; 36 Hours to Die (movie), 1999; The Substitute 3: Winner Takes All (movie), 1999; Journey to the Center of the Earth (movie), 1999; UC: Undercover, 2002; Going to California, 2002; Guilty Hearts (miniseries), 2002; Everwood, 2002—. Producer of television programs, including: Bonds of Love, 1993. Director of television films, including: Texan, 1994.


Best new director, Aspen Short Film Festival, for Texan, 1994; best short film, Fort Lauderdale Film Festival, for Texan, 1994; best performer in a Broadway production, Drama League Awards, for Captains Courageous, 1998; best performer in a Broadway production, Drama League Awards, for Stephen Sondheim's Follies, 2001; best actor in a TV show, Family Television Awards, for Everwood, 2003.


Treat Williams has been a renowned actor on Broadway, in films, and on television for more than 30 years. Along the way he has been seen in such greats as the television version of Hair, A Streetcar Named Desire, Mulholland Falls, Deep End of the Ocean, and Woody Allen's Hollywood Ending. It was the WB television series Everwood, however, that brought him to the attention of audiences everywhere. He has received much critical acclaim and several award nominations for his portrayal of the endearing Dr. Andy Brown, a surgeon who moved his family from New York City to a small town in Colorado after his wife died.

Williams was named after his ancestor Robert Treat Payne (1731–1814), one of the men who signed the Declaration of Independence. Williams was born on December 1, 1951, in Rowayton, Connecticut. He grew up there attending prep–school before he went on to Franklin and Marshall College in Pennsylvania. While there he joined the Fulton Repertory Theatre Troupe in Lancaster. He thoroughly explored his love of acting while part of the Troupe and so after graduation he moved to New York City to try acting as a full–time career. Soon after his move, in 1973, he made his Broadway debut in the musical Grease. He started out as an understudy to John Travolta but later ended up taking over the role of Danny Zuko himself. His plan to enter the New York acting scene began with great success. He was later seen in productions of Over Here, a play that featured the Andrews Sisters, The Pirates of Penzance, and Oleanna.

Williams decided to try his hand at film acting and soon after made his film debut in the farcical movie The Ritz in 1976. He played a private detective who was tracking a mobster through ridiculous situations. It was in 1979's television version of Hair, however, that Williams caught the public's eye. He was nominated for a Golden Globe award for New Star of the Year for his portrayal of the character Berger, the leader of a group of hippies. Around the same time, Williams, who has always been interested in singing as well as acting, formed a rock band with Kevin Kline, Rex Smith, Peter Riegert, and Mary Elizabeth Mastrantonio called Crime & Punishment.

Williams had early success in his chosen profession, but he was said to have really come into his own when he played Detective Daniel Ciello in the Sidney Lumet film, Prince of the City, in 1981. At the time he gained much critical acclaim and "was pegged as the next Pacino," according to Entertainment Weekly. He was nominated for his second Golden Globe award for Best Actor in a Leading Role for his portrayal of Det. Ciello. It seemed like stardom was just around the corner for Williams. Unfortunately he went through a period where he told Entertainment Weekly that he was interested in little more than "chasing the ongoing party," along with all the drugs that partying provides, and it was a little while before he cleaned himself up and really pursued his acting whole–heartedly again.

Williams was involved in a string of movies that did not receive much praise. But he was given his next big break when he played Stanley Kowalski in the television version of A Streetcar Named Desire in 1984. He was nominated for his third Golden Globe for Best Actor in a Leading Role in a Mini–Series or Television Movie for his portrayal of the aggressive Kowalski. Also in the 1980s Williams was much–admired for his lead in the television movie J. Edgar Hoover.

In 1994 Williams expanded his area of expertise by trying his hand at directing—he directed Showtime's Texan for the Chanticleer Series. The film is about a retired pilot who discovers that his wife has been lying to him. He won two awards for the film: Best New Director at the Aspen Short Film Festival and Best Short Film at the Fort Lauderdale Film Festival.

Williams returned to acting with the black comedy Things to Do in Denver When You're Dead. In the movie Williams played a rather psychotic character named Critical Bill who uses corpses as punching bags. He was next seen in the controversial movie Mulholland Falls, a murder mystery set in Los Angeles, California, in which Williams played a wicked army colonel. Then in 1996 Williams played the villain Xander Drax in the movie The Phantom, based on the comic strip, alongside Billy Zane, Kristy Swanson, and Catherine Zeta–Jones. Although none of these films received the applause of critics, they have all become cult favorites in their genres.

The next movie for which Williams received critical acclaim was 1996's television movie The Late Shift, a movie that dramatized the fight between men who wanted to take over The Tonight Show after Johnny Carson left it. Williams played agent Michael Ovitz, a role in which Dick Cavett in the New York Times said Williams was "smart and smooth." Williams was nominated for an Emmy award for his portrayal of the legendary agent. He was also nominated for a Golden Satellite Award for Best Performance by an Actor in a Supporting Role in a Series, Mini–Series, or Motion Picture Made for Television.

As the 1990s came to a close Williams was also seen in the 1998 underwater action flick Deep Rising, and he made a cameo appearance in the Festival film Cannes Man, alongside such actors as Johnny Depp and Dennis Hopper. Williams received good reviews for the 1999 film, The Deep End of the Ocean, alongside Michelle Pfeiffer. The movie was based on the book by Jacquelyn Mitchard. Mitchard's book was the first selection for talk show host Oprah Winfrey's book club because it was considered something that would have mass appeal. The story is about a family that is thrown into turmoil when the wife, played by Pfeiffer, loses her three–year–old son when she takes her eyes off him for a minute at her high school reunion. Williams plays the husband. New York Times ' Janet Maslin said the film was paced "so simply and determinedly that its early scenes are like a string of picture postcards, each one depicting a new phase of the family's ordeal."

Also in 1999, Williams played Theodore Lytton in the television miniseries Journey to the Center of the Earth. The movie was based on the novel by Jules Verne in which explorers travel to the center of the planet to discover an ancient civilization. After a few more movies that did not quite receive rave reviews, Williams took part in the 2002 television miniseries Guilty Hearts with Marcia Gay Harden and Olympia Dukakis. Based on a true story, Williams played a doctor who meets an unhappily married woman at church with whom he starts an affair. After the doctor's wife finds out about the affair, she is mysteriously murdered.

Williams returned to the theater in the musical Captains Courageous, which opened at the Manhattan Theatre Club in New York City in 1999. It was a musical based on the novel by Rudyard Kipling about a rich, obnoxious boy who falls off a ship and meets up with a Portuguese seaman and his mates on a New England fishing boat. Williams played the part of the Portuguese fisherman. Peter Marks wrote in the New York Times that Williams gave "a pleasingly uncomplicated performance." The music was well received, and Williams was said to be "always appealing possessed of a pleasant, delicate singing voice." Marks continued, "Mr. Williams proves a warmly embraceable father figure, soft and masculine, too." Williams received a Drama League Award for the part.

The next musical Williams was seen in was 2001's Stephen Sondheim's Follies, a play about two couples who go to a showgirl reunion where they are forced to face the truth about their unhappy marriages. According to Rex Reed of the New York Observer "Mr. Williams, as the neglected husband guilty of extramarital affairs for the warmth and affection he never got at home, has a masculine vulnerability that is gruff, charming and tender, often at the same time, and his show–stopping baggy–pants number 'The God–Why–Don't–You–Love–Me Blues,' is the kind of stuff that made Bert Lahr famous." He received a Drama League Award for his performance.

In 2002 Woody Allen offered Williams a part in his film, Hollywood Ending. The movie is about a director whose career has taken a turn for the worst. His ex–wife tries to get him a job with her new studio chief fiancée, played by Williams. Elvis Mitchell wrote in the New York Times that "Mr. Williams [takes] the conniving unflappability of his performance in The Late Shift to a frightening and impressive level."

Also in 2002 Williams received another big break for his career: he was offered the part of Dr. Andrew Brown on the WB series, Everwood. When Williams first read the script he was taken by it immediately and he was chosen for the role almost as quickly. The New York Times ' Neil Genzlinger wrote that the actor "has rarely looked as comfortable as he does in Everwood, a promising new drama full of wry touches." Entertainment Weekly affirmed that "Treat Williams is soaring again.… His performance in Everwood is confident yet casual, thoughtful and generous."

Everwood is filmed in Utah, and when the show was signed on for a second season Williams moved his family from New York City to the Salt Lake City area (mirroring the show's premise) so that he could be near his family and filming at the same time. The show became an immediate hit. When asked about why the show has been so successful, Williams told Entertainment Weekly, "I think there's a yearning for places that are clean, pure, innocent. I know I feel that. And I think that's what people see in Everwood. " said of his performance, "Williams is likable even when his character isn't rational." Williams was nominated for a SAG Award for Outstanding Performance by a Male Actor in a Drama Series in both 2003 and 2004. He was also honored at the Family Television Awards for his portrayal of Dr. Brown. According to Ken Tucker in Entertainment Weekly, "Really, if you're not watching Everwood, you're not missing a guilty pleasure: You're missing pure pleasure."

When he is not busy acting on stage, on television, and in film, Williams loves to fly. He is a certified commercial pilot, helicopter pilot, and a flight instructor. He has a 39 Texan T–6 World War II–era plane and a twin–engine Seneca. He is married to Pamela Van Sant with whom he has two children: a son, Gill, and a daughter, Eleanor Claire.



Entertainment Weekly, June 27/July 4, 2003, p. 70.

Guardian (London, England), May 16, 2002.

New York Observer, April 23, 2001.

New York Times, February 24, 1996; June 7, 1996; February 10, 1997; January 2, 1998; February 17, 1999; February 28, 1999; March 12, 1999; September 13, 1999; April 6, 2001; May 1, 2002; September 16, 2002.

PR Newswire, December 17, 2001; January 6, 2003; March 31, 2003; August 18, 2003.


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Catherine V. Donaldson

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