Billy Dee Williams in Lincoln Park to promote new memoir

ByHosea Sanders and Marsha Jordan WLS logo
Friday, February 23, 2024
Billy Dee Williams in Chicago to promote new memoir
Actor Billy Dee Williams is in Lincoln Park, Chicago Thursday to promote his new memoir, "What Have We Here? Portraits of a Life."

CHICAGO (WLS) -- Billy Dee Williams is in Chicago Thursday, promoting his new memoir called "What Have We Here? Portraits of a Life."

The veteran actor told ABC7 he's always been ready for his closeup, especially in the movie "Mahogany," which was shot in Chicago with Diana Ross.

Williams explained why he's now ready to share his life story.

"Well, I'm gonna be 87 in April, so it's time," Williams said. "I'm thinking in terms of legacy."

It's been a wonderful beautiful whirlwind
Billy Dee Williams

Williams starred in the 1971 TV movie "Brian's Song." The story is about Chicago Bears teammates who bonded, broke color barriers, and were hit with tragedy, and the story has a lasting impact.

The actor discussed his portrayal of Gale Sayers in the movie.

"That whole project was an act of love," Williams said. "The chemistry that James Caan and I had together was a real treat for me. It was a great experience working with the Chicago Bears, going to Indiana with those guys. Jimmy Caan, he went out and scrimmaged with those guys. I wasn't prepared to do that."

Williams was called the "Black Clark Gable" after roles like that.

"I think I presented something on the screen that was never presented before," Williams said. "I mean it's not a bad thing to be regarded as a sex symbol!"

The Star Wars actor's iconic character, Lando, also came with some pushback.

"George Lucas was getting a lot of flack about Darth Vader being this big Black, ominous figure, so he needed to correct that... by introducing me to that whole situation, that saga," Williams said.

Williams is proud of the life he has lived so far.

"It's been a wonderful beautiful whirlwind," Williams said. "It ain't over until it's over."

The actor will appear at Francis Parker School in Lincoln Park at 7 p.m. Thursday to talk about his book.

Tickets are available through the WBEZ website.