He Played Potsie on "Happy Days." See Anson Williams at 72.
His Hollywood career has flourished behind the scenes since his time on Happy Days.
Happy Days was a popular ABC sitcom that shot to near-instant popularity in the mid '70s. And while the stars of the show were granted rockstar status not long after the series aired, what's truly remarkable is how long standing and successful many of their careers have been since. Ron Howard (Richie Cunningham) went on to become a blockbuster filmmaker, and Henry Winkler ("The Fonz") is now an Emmy Award winning actor and comedian. Just as successful but perhaps less widely recognized in his achievements is Anson Williams, who played Warren "Potsie" Weber on the show. Since Happy Days wrapped, Williams has had a bustling career behind the scenes as a Hollywood director and more. Read on to see the star now at 72, and find out what he's done since starring on the iconic show.
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He's gone by many names, but to fans, he's still "Potsie."
Williams was born "Anson William Heimlich" in Los Angeles, California. If that surname rings a bell, it's because the actor's uncle was doctor Henry Heimlich, who first invented the "Heimlich maneuver" to save choking victims. The child of Hungarian-Jewish immigrants, Williams' father changed the legal spelling of the family name to "Heimlick" in an effort to assimilate. When Williams got his start in Hollywood, he ultimately chose to work under a stage name instead.
However, the actor says that when he runs into fans, they rarely call him any of those names: he's still "Potsie" over 50 years after the show's wrap. "The nice thing about it is that when people say 'Potsie' there is always a smile on their faces," he told On Milwaukee. "I am grateful for the opportunity to be on the show, to be Potsie. But once, I was complaining to Ron (Howard) about being Potsie all the time and he said, 'What are you complaining about? I get 'Richie' and 'Opie!'"
Williams still acts, and is now a successful director.
Since his time on Happy Days, Williams has had a prolific career as a TV and film director. Most famously, he has worked on Melrose Place, Beverly Hills, 90210, Sabrina the Teenage Witch , Baywatch, Xena: Warrior Princess, Hercules: The Legendary Journeys, Lizzie McGuire, and The Secret Life of the American Teenager. He also continued acting, appearing on Laverne and Shirley, The Love Boat, Fudge, Boy Meets World, Baywatch, Sabrina the Teenage Witch, The Odd Couple, and more.
Williams admits that his was an unlikely success story. In 2014, he released a memoir about his ascent to becoming a prominent Hollywood director, titled Singing to a Bulldog: From Happy Days to Hollywood Director, and the Unlikely Mentor Who Got Me There.
Williams also dabbled in music.
Williams also branched out into music while performing on the sitcom. "When I was on Happy Days, I didn't get paid like actors do today to be on TV shows. I mean I did OK, but I wasn't going to get rich. So I started looking for an opportunity," he told On Milwaukee. "One day, it dawned on me that David Cassidy got a record contract by singing on his show, and The Brady Bunch did, too. I thought, 'I can sing, sort of, I just need to convince [the show's creator] Garry Marshall to put me in a band on the show.'"
The conversation was better timed than he could have imagined. "I asked to talk to him and he was really busy and said, "You have 60 seconds." I said we needed to have a band on the show that played at Arnold's. He stopped in his tracks and said, 'A band? Do you sing?' And I said, 'I'm OK.' And he told me they were in the process of writing an episode with a frat party in it and he would try out my idea by writing a band into the script."
Once his talent as a singer became part of his onscreen identity, Williams went on to pursue music outside of the show, too. In 1977, he released a single, "Deeply," which peaked at number 93 on the Hot 100.
He's stayed close to his Happy Days co-stars after all these years.
Though Williams has branched out into other realms of entertainment, he often reconnects with the show and his former cast members. In fact, he has reprised his role as Potsie for several other series, and in 1992 and 2005, he rejoined the Happy Days cast for two reunion specials.
Most recently, Williams co-starred in a short film opposite Don Most, who played Ralph Malph on the '70s sitcom. So far, the collaboration has been well received, even earning the pair a coveted award. "So honored that Don & I won best acting duo in the International Short Film Festival for our film, 'Harvest Time.'" he mused in a Feb. 16 tweet. "What's stunning is that I won a best actor award? Who would have thought?" he wrote.