Van Williams, the actor best known for his television role as the Green Hornet, has passed away. He was 82.
Variety reports he actually died on Nov. 28, but his passing only became publicly known on Sunday.
Born in 1934 in Forth Worth, Texas, Williams was working as a diving instructor in Hawaii when he was discovered in 1957 by producer Mike Todd, who persuaded him to move to Hollywood. He earned his big break two years later with a lead role on the ABC private detective drama “Bourbon Street.” He followed that with “Surfside 6,” starring opposite Troy Donahue.
However, it’s on the short-lived “Green Hornet” that Williams made a lasting mark as newspaper publisher Britt Reid, who fought crime as the masked Green Hornet alongside his partner Kato, so memorably played by Bruce Lee.
An adaptation of the long-running radio series, “The Green Hornet” was canceled in 1967, after airing for just one season on ABC. Although Lee want on to become an international film star, Williams led a quieter Hollywood career, making appearances such shows as “The Big Valley,” “Gunsmoke” and “Mission: Impossible,” before landing a starring role first in the 1975 Saturday morning drama “Westwind” and then a substantial part on “How the West Was Won.”
Williams retired from acting in the early 1980s to open his own company, and served as a reserve deputy sheriff with the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department. He made a cameo in the 1993 film “The Bruce Lee Story,” playing a director of “The Green Hornet.”
He is survived by his wife Vicki Flaxman.