He Played Harley Foster on "The Waltons." See Hal Williams Now at 83.
The actor also starred in popular comedies like Sanford and Son and 227.
Now 83, actor Hal Williams has had a legendary career—especially when it comes to television. Fans have loved his work in shows like 227, Sanford and Son, and The Sinbad Show, but to a certain audience, Williams is best known for playing Harley Foster on The Waltons.
Telling the story of a family living in Virginia during the Great Depression, The Waltons ran for nine seasons. And while Harley only appeared in seven episodes, Williams made his mark on the iconic show. His character comes to Waltons Mountain with his young son seeking work and ends up sticking around when he marries Verdie Grant (Lynn Hamilton).
Now, it's been 50 years since The Waltons premiered, and a lot has changed for Williams. Read on to find out what his life is like today.
Williams is still a working actor.
Williams didn't start out his adult life being an actor. Before embarking on this career, he had a few others, including being a postal worker. But once he moved to Los Angeles to be in the business full-time, the acting gigs didn't stop coming. The Waltons was only his second TV role; other notable parts include appearances on Roots: The Next Generation and Hill Street Blues. He's also appeared in movies including Private Benjamin, The Escape Artist, and Guess Who.
More recent roles include Parks and Recreation, The Mayor, and The Black Lady Sketch Show, in which he reprised his 227 character, Lester Jenkins. Williams' latest credit is the video game, Disintegration, for which he did some voice work.
He hosts his own podcast.
Williams has his own podcast, Hal's Hitlist, which he co-hosts with producer Sharlette Hambrick. The show is recorded from his home in California, and, across its run, they've covered everything from awards season to the history of racism in America.
The first season of the podcast wrapped up in July, and it seems like there are more episodes to come. When the first episode went live in April 2021, Williams told his followers that he was "excited about this new endeavor." He has also appeared on other podcasts, including The Tanya Acker Show, since then.
He looks back fondly on his career.
Talking to Get.TV in December 2019, Williams said that playing Smitty on Sanford and Son was his big break. He has many happy memories from that time, especially working with Howard Platt, who played Officer Hopkins.
"[Sanford and Son] sustained over all the sitcoms that I've done. Sanford has had the longevity," he told the outlet. "The writing was there, and the talent was there. Howard said to me, 'You know, we got paid for having a d*** good time.' And I said, 'We sure did.'"
But Williams told AntennaTV the same year that he doesn't just want to be remembered for appearing in comedies—he wants to be remembered for his serious roles, too.
"People don't realize that I'm a serious actor. I played the grandfather in Roots, I was in Harry O with David Janssen—I did other dramatic shows. I did five years on The Waltons," he explained. "I've always tried to keep a foot in both camps. And it's hard to fight the pigeon-holing that goes on … but in all those comedies, you have to remember one thing: I wasn't the funny guy. I was the straight guy in the middle of all the madness."
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He loves his family—and his fans.
Today, Williams lives in Palm Desert, California. He's been married twice. His first marriage was to Gay Anderson, from 1975 to 1976, and his second was to Renee Himes, from 1978 to 1984. He has three children, and though he occasionally shares shots of his family on Instagram, Williams tends to keep his personal life pretty private otherwise.
But as far as his acting legacy goes? In the same interview with Get.TV, Williams said that even now, he still gets a kick out of being recognized by fans.
"One of the things that keeps me going is the people. Perfect strangers are so gracious at airports, grocery stores, everywhere I go," he said. "I hear more people saying they grew up with me. I appreciate and love all of them."