Montel Williams

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Montel Williams
Montel Williams by David Shankbone.jpg
Williams at the 2008 Tribeca Film Festival
Birth name Montel Brian Anthony Williams
Born (1956-07-03) July 3, 1956 (age 58)
Baltimore, Maryland, U.S.
Allegiance  United States of America
Service/branch  United States Marine Corps
 United States Navy
Years of service 1974-1976 (USMC)
1980-1989 (Navy)
Rank US-O4 insignia.svg Lieutenant Commander
Awards Meritorious Service Medal
Navy Commendation Medal
Navy Achievement Medal
Spouse(s) Rochele See (1982–89)
Grace Morley (1992–2000)
Tara Fowler (2007–present)

Montel Brian Anthony Williams (born July 3, 1956) is an American television personality, radio talk show host, and actor. He is best known as host of the long-running The Montel Williams Show, and more recently as a spokesman for the Partnership for Prescription Assistance (PPA). Williams is also active with the nonprofit MS Foundation, which he founded after being diagnosed with multiple sclerosis in 1999.

Early life[edit]

Born in Baltimore, Maryland, on July 3, 1956, Williams attended Andover High School in neighboring Linthicum, Maryland, where he was elected president of his class in both his junior and senior years. He was a good student, athlete, and musician, and active in countywide student government issues in Annapolis, Maryland.[1] His father, Herman Williams Jr., was a firefighter who in 1992 became Baltimore’s first African American Fire Chief.[citation needed] Montel has five siblings.[citation needed]


Education and Military Service[edit]

Montel Williams enlisted in the U.S. Marine Corps upon graduating high school in 1974. He completed Boot Camp at Marine Corps Recruit Depot Parris Island, South Carolina, where he was promoted to platoon guide. After basic training, he was sent to the Desert Warfare Training Center at Marine Corps Air Ground Combat Center Twentynine Palms, near Palm Springs, California.

His superiors at MCAGCC Twentynine Palms became impressed with his leadership skills, and he was recommended for, and accepted to, the Naval Academy Preparatory School (NAPS) at Naval Station Newport, Rhode Island. He completed the one-year NAPS course and was accepted to the U.S. Naval Academy, Class of 1980. When he arrived at Annapolis on July 6, 1976, he was honorably discharged as a corporal (E-4) from the Marines, and enlisted into the Navy as a midshipman. Williams graduated from Annapolis in 1980 with a degree in general engineering and a minor in international security affairs. Upon his graduation, he became the first African American enlisted Marine to complete and graduate both the Naval Academy Prep School and Annapolis.

Commissioned as an ensign (O-1E) in the Restricted Line, he completed Naval Cryptologic Officer training. Williams spent the following year and a half in Guam as a cryptologic officer for naval intelligence, where he served at sea and ashore. In 1982, he was transferred to the Defense Language Institute in Monterey, California, where he studied the Russian language for one year.

After three years aboard submarines, Williams, now a full lieutenant (O-3E), was made supervising cryptologic officer with the Naval Security Fleet Support Division at Fort Meade, Maryland. It was while counseling his crew that he discovered a gift for public speaking. In 1988, he began conducting informal counseling for the wives and families of the servicemen in his command. He was later asked to speak to a local group of kids in Kansas City, Missouri, about the importance of leadership and how to overcome obstacles on the road to success—thus beginning a three-year career in motivational speaking.

He left the Regular Navy with the rank of lieutenant (0-3) and his personal decorations include the Meritorious Service Medal, Navy Commendation Medal, and the Navy Achievement Medal. In addition, he reached out to thousands of parents, educators and business leaders, encouraging them to work together to address youth issues, trends and to inspire youngsters to reach their highest potential. These efforts to reach out to the community eventually led to his talk show, the “Montel Williams Show.”

The Montel Williams Show[edit]

Williams began The Montel Williams Show (syndicated by CBS Paramount Television) in 1991.[2] In 1996 Williams received a Daytime Emmy Award for Outstanding Talk Show Host. Ratings for the show peaked during the 1996–97 season, with a 4.4 average rating. He was again nominated for Outstanding Talk Show Host in 2002, and the Montel Williams Show was nominated for Outstanding Talk Show in 2001 and 2002.

On January 30, 2008, Variety reported that CBS TV Distribution terminated The Montel Williams Show when key Fox-owned stations chose not to renew it for the 2008–09 season.[3] On May 16, 2008 the last episode of The Montel Williams Show aired.[4]

On November 10, 2010, Oprah Winfrey invited Williams, along with former talk show hosts Phil Donahue, Geraldo Rivera, Ricki Lake, and Sally Jessy Raphael as guests on her show. This was the first time that she had fellow talkers appear together since their programs left the air.[5]


Williams has also guest-starred in episodic television and off-Broadway plays. Among other roles, he portrayed a Navy SEAL lieutenant in three episodes of the television series JAG. He also produced and starred in a short-lived television series called Matt Waters, which appeared on CBS in 1996. He played an ex-Navy SEAL turned inner-city high school teacher.[6] In 1997 he played Lt Col Northrop, a USAF nuclear missile silo commander, in the fictional movie The Peacekeeper.

Williams played the judge presiding over Erica Kane's (Susan Lucci) murder trial on the ABC soap opera All My Children in 2002. In 2003 he made a guest appearance on the soap as himself to promote an episode of his own show on which several AMC stars were scheduled to appear. In 2004 he hosted American Candidate, a political reality show on Showtime. Williams has also guest-starred on Touched by an Angel and Guiding Light.

Williams also appeared in a Perry Mason movie in 1993 titled “The Case Of The Telltale Talk Show Host.” His character, Boomer Kelly, was a former football player who was appearing on a radio talk show whose owner was found murdered.


Williams produced and narrated the Starline Films documentary film 4CHOSEN: The Documentary, which tells the story about the New Jersey Turnpike shooting in 1998, and the racial profiling case that followed the incident.[7][8]


Williams is a national spokesman of the Partnership for Prescription Assistance (PPA), a patient assistance program clearinghouse that helps low-income patients apply for free or reduced-price prescription drugs. On November 30, 2007, while in Savannah, Georgia, to promote PPA, he threatened reporters following an earlier interview at which Courtney Scott, a 17-year-old high school intern reporter for the Savannah Morning News, had asked him whether restriction of pharmaceutical profits would discourage research and development of new drugs. Angered by the question, Williams subsequently terminated that videotaped interview; Williams later ran into Scott in his hotel and threatened to “blow [her] up.”[9]

Williams’s public relations representatives later apologized for his hostile outburst in an issued statement: “I mistakenly thought the reporter and photographer in question were at the hotel to confront me about some earlier comments. I was wrong, and I apologize for my overreaction.” [10] In 2010 Williams became chief spokesman for the Poker Training Network,[11] now Card Geniuses, a MLM-based poker instruction and playing website. Williams currently is a spokesman for MoneyMutual, a payday lending service.[12]

Other work[edit]

On April 6, 2009, Williams began hosting a daily radio show, Montel Across America, on Air America Media.[13] On January 21, 2010, Air America ceased broadcasting, leaving Williams without a radio outlet.[14]

As of May 2009, he started hosting an infomercial for the Living Well Healthmaster, a blender product. It is presented under the title Living Well with Montel; the infomercial is structured similarly to his old talk show, featuring guests talking about their health problems, with the Healthmaster mixer being the solution. Later episodes of Living Well with Montel advertised a home pressure cooker and an identity theft protection service. In June 2010, Williams began doing infomercials for LifeLock, a security fraud company.[15]

On October 1, 2014, Williams spoke in front of a Congressional committee in support of former Marine Sgt. Andrew Tahmooressi, who was arrested in Tijuana, Mexico for carrying guns across the U.S./Mexican border.[16]

Personal life[edit]

Williams has two daughters, Ashley Williams (b. 1984) and Maressa Williams (b. 1988), with his first wife, Rochele See. Williams married Grace Morley, a burlesque dancer on June 6, 1992.[17] They have a son, Montel Brian Hank Williams (b. 1993), and a daughter, Wyntergrace Williams (b. 1994). The couple divorced in 2000. In July 2006, Williams proposed to girlfriend Tara Fowler, an American Airlines flight attendant. They married before friends and family on a beach in Bermuda on October 6, 2007.[18] He is also featured in Making Music Magazine.

Williams participated in the 2007 World Series of Poker main event,[19] and planned to donate any potential winnings to American families affected by the Iraq war. He was eliminated in Day 2. During the event Williams also spoke out about the port security bill signed in 2006 that banned online gaming sites from accepting money transactions from the U.S.

Williams was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis in 1990.[20][21] In the following year, Williams created the MS Foundation, a nonprofit organization with a focus on research and education.[22] Williams has openly stated that he uses medical cannabis, stating it helps to ease his multiple sclerosis–caused neuropathic pain.[23] Williams has become a vocal advocate of cannabis, supporting efforts to pass medical cannabis laws in states, as well as calling for full legalization.[24][25] He has also said that snowboarding is his “best therapy” for MS, commenting that “When I stand up I need first to hold on to something and think about the positioning of my legs. If I were to just start walking I would fall. I have to get my brain to find my legs and then I will usually take a test step, but I say something at the time to anyone who might be watching to distract from what I’m really doing. Then I’ll find places to grab as I walk and talk, sometimes even walking backwards because I have more control that way. People have no idea that I’m doing this. But when I’m snowboarding and my feet are strapped in, my brain seems to have a direct connection to my legs. After snowboarding it’s night and day for my balance and walking. There’s a real physical change before I get up to the mountain and when I come down. The benefits last for days.”[26]


  • Williams, Montel; Paisner, Daniel (February 1997). Mountain, Get Out Of My Way. Warner Books. ISBN 978-0-446-60417-8. 
  • Williams, Montel; Kramer, Jill (September 2000). Life Lessons and Reflections. Carlsbad, CA: Mountain Movers Press. ISBN 978-1-58825-001-8. 
  • Williams, Montel; Linguvic, Wini (2001-06-01). BodyChange: The 21 Day Fitness Program for Changing Your Body and Changing Your Life (Softcover). Mountain Movers Press. ISBN 978-1588250049. [27]
  • Williams, Montel; Paisner, Daniel (2001-10-01). A Dozen Ways to Sunday. Mountain Movers Press. ISBN 978-1-58825-005-6. 
  • Williams, Montel; Linguvic, Wini (2003-10-01). BodyChange: The 21 Day Fitness Program for Changing Your Body and Changing Your Life (Hardcover). Carlsbad, CA: Hay House. ISBN 978-1-4019-0314-5. [28]
  • Williams, Montel; Grobel, Lawrence (2005-01-04). Climbing Higher. NAL Trade. ISBN 978-0-451-21398-3. 


  1. ^ The Official Montel Williams Site. Retrieved on 2013-01-07.
  2. ^ Ramsay, Carolyn (July 8, 1991). "The New Host on the Talk-Show Block : Television: Montel Williams, a former Navy man and lecturer to teens, wants to dethrone Oprah and Phil. His 13-week trial run begins today.". The Los Angeles Times. Retrieved 2010-12-07. 
  3. ^ Littleton, Cynthia. (2008-01-30) Variety – Montel Williams calls it quits. Retrieved on 2013-01-07.
  4. ^ Montel Williams – Bonus Videos. Retrieved on 2013-01-07.
  5. ^ from Donahue, Sally Jessy, Geraldo, Montel, Ricki: Talk show hosts—where are they now?. (2010-11-10). Retrieved on 2013-01-07.
  6. ^ Rosenberg, Howard (1996-01-03). "Next Up on Montel: Host Turns Actor". The Los Angeles Times. Retrieved 2010-12-07. 
  7. ^ Starline Films. Starline Films. Retrieved on 2013-01-07.
  8. ^ 4Chosen: The Documentary (2008).
  9. ^ Montel Threatens to 'Blow Up' Teen Reporter, December 2, 2007
  10. ^ "Montel threatens to ‘blow up’ teen reporter – Entertainment – Celebrities –". MSNBC. 2007-02-12. Retrieved 2011-07-22. 
  11. ^ "Small Business Opportunity | Make Money with Poker". Retrieved 2011-07-22. 
  12. ^ Grindrod, John (April 16, 2013). "Payday Lenders: Safety Nets or Loan Sharks". The Lima News. Retrieved May 9, 2013. 
  13. ^ Montel Williams to Host Radio Show Yahoo News, March 13, 2009
  14. ^ Air America flies away for good The A.V. Club (2010-01-21).
  15. ^ Media Spots | Living Well | Montel. LifeLock (2010-07-28). Retrieved on 2013-01-07.
  16. ^ Andrews, Helena (October 1, 2014). "Montel Williams testifies on the Hill, breaks down in tears". Washington Post (Washington, D.C.). Retrieved October 2, 2014. 
  17. ^ IMDB Biography for Montel Williams
  18. ^ Montel Williams Marries – Weddings, Montel Williams. Retrieved on 2013-01-07[dead link].
  19. ^ "Las Vegas Now". Retrieved 2008-05-13. 
  20. ^ Lander, David L. (December 11, 2000). "Montel, There's More to the MS Battle". The Los Angeles Times. Retrieved 2010-12-07. 
  21. ^ "Montel Williams diagnosed with multiple sclerosis". CNN. 
  22. ^ "The Montel Williams MS Foundation". Retrieved 2011-07-22. 
  23. ^ "Montel Williams uses Medical Marijuana for Multiple Sclerosis". 2004-01-08. Retrieved 2011-07-22. 
  24. ^ Marimow, Ann (2011-01-20). "Montel Williams lends support to Maryland's medical marijuana effort". The Washington Post. Retrieved January 24, 2011. 
  25. ^ Kugel, Allison (2006-01-23). "Montel Williams on MS, Legalizing Marijuana and 15 Years of Making Television History". Retrieved January 24, 2011. 
  26. ^ "Interview with Montel Williams". Ability Magazine. date unavailable. Retrieved 2012-04-02.  Check date values in: |date= (help)
  27. ^ [Body Change: Amazon Books]
  28. ^ [Body Change: Amazon Books]

External links[edit]