What Have We Here?: Portraits of a Life

Knopf. Feb. 2024. 288p. ISBN 9780593318607. $32. MEMOIR
Young moviegoers today are likely to think of actor Williams as the character Lando Calrissian in three Star Wars movies, but older folks will remember him as a suave leading man in such dramas as Mahogany and Lady Sings the Blues. At 86, he looks back on his life and storied career. Growing up in Harlem, he had an early love of the arts. But despite a role on Broadway when he was seven, Williams didn’t plan to be an actor. He wanted to be a painter and was admitted to the National Academy of Fine Arts and Design, where he earned extra money by booking acting roles. He toiled on Broadway and rubbed elbows with the likes of James Earl Jones, Laurence Olivier, and Sidney Poitier. In 1971, he appeared as Gale Sayers in the tearjerker TV movie Brian’s Song, which was seen by 55 million people and launched his stardom. Williams writes candidly about his marriages, his love affairs, interactions with his costars, and the frustrations of being a Black actor in the 1970s.
VERDICT A juicy memoir from a legendary actor. Celebrity watchers will enjoy.
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