Anson William Heimlich
September 25, 1949
Anson Williams (born Anson William Heimlich, September 25, 1949, in Los Angeles, California) is an American actor, singer, and director, best known for his role as gullible, well-intentioned singer Warren "Potsie" Weber on the television series Happy Days (1974–1984), a role for which he was nominated for the Golden Globe Award for Best Supporting Actor – Series, Miniseries or Television Film.
Williams has since become a prominent television director, working on programs such as Melrose Place (1992–1999), Beverly Hills, 90210 (1990–2000), Sabrina the Teenage Witch (1996–2003), Lizzie McGuire (2001–2004), and The Secret Life of the American Teenager (2008–2013).
Life and career
Williams was born Anson William Heimlich to a Jewish family. His father, Haskell Heimlich, legally changed the spelling of the family name to "Heimlick", unlike Williams' uncle, Dr. Henry Heimlich, namesake of the Heimlich maneuver for treating choking victims. Williams attended Burbank High School, where he was captain of the track team and acted in multiple school productions. In 1971, he appeared with John Amos in a commercial for McDonald's.
In 1972, Williams portrayed Potsie Weber in a segment of the comedy-anthology series Love, American Style titled "Love and the Happy Days", which also introduced Richie Cunningham (Ron Howard), Richie's mother Marion (Marion Ross), and other characters that were spun off into the television series Happy Days. (Only Williams, Howard, and Ross reprised their roles for the spin-off). The new series' first season, during which Williams received second billing after Howard, was centered mainly on Richie and Potsie. Eventually, as break-out character Arthur "Fonzie" Fonzarelli (Henry Winkler) and Richie's mother, father, and sister became more popular, Potsie was joined by Ralph Malph (Don Most, who was merely a side character in season one), and Potsie and Ralph became inseparable.
Unlike Howard and Most, Williams was one of the few to remain through the entire run of the series, although his appearances became less frequent in later seasons. In some episodes, Richie, Potsie, and Ralph formed a band combo that performed at Arnold's Drive-In and other places. As Potsie, Williams actually sang lead vocals for the group. Williams' first wife, Lorrie Mahaffey, portrayed Potsie's girlfriend, Jennifer, in later seasons.
After Happy Days, Williams began a much more prolific career as a television director, starting with short programs for adolescent-age children, including afterschool specials "No Greater Gift" (1985) and "The Drug Knot" (1986), and TV-movie Lone Star Kid (1986). He has gone on to direct many episodes for a variety of television series, including The Pretender, Beverly Hills, 90210, Melrose Place, seaQuest 2032, Star Trek: Deep Space Nine, Star Trek: Voyager, Xena: Warrior Princess, Hercules: The Legendary Journeys, The Secret Life of the American Teenager, Sabrina the Teenage Witch and Charmed. He also directed several episodes of the TV series 7th Heaven.
Despite his success as a director and producer, Williams has occasionally returned to his work on Happy Days in retrospective ways. He played himself in a 1996 Happy Days-themed Boy Meets World episode (which also featured former castmates Tom Bosley and Pat Morita). While directing a 2003 episode of Sabrina the Teenage Witch titled "Sabrina in Wonderland", he appeared as Potsie in a fantasy sequence. He also joined his fellow Happy Days cast members for two reunion specials: The Happy Days Reunion Special (1992) and Happy Days: 30th Anniversary Reunion (2005). Williams initially objected to footage of Potsie appearing in Weezer's 1994 music video Buddy Holly, which was set in Arnold's Drive-In from Happy Days, but he later relented.
Williams is also a businessman. In 1987, fellow Happy Days cast member Al Molinaro and he opened a chain of diners called Big Al's; the business went defunct. He founded Starmaker Products, a cosmetics company, and was a featured speaker at the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office's National Trademark Expo in April 2008, at which he talked about the importance of registered trademarks for small businesses (and signed autographs for Happy Days fans). Williams is the author of Singing to a Bulldog: From Happy Days to Hollywood Director, and the Unlikely Mentor Who Got Me There.
Happy Days lawsuit
On April 19, 2011, Williams and four of his Happy Days co-stars, Erin Moran, Don Most, Marion Ross and the estate of Tom Bosley, who died in 2010, filed a $10 million breach-of-contract lawsuit against CBS, which owns the show, claiming they had not been paid for merchandising revenues owed under their contracts. The cast members claimed they had not received revenues from show-related items, including comic books, T-shirts, scrapbooks, trading cards, games, lunch boxes, dolls, toy cars, magnets, greeting cards, and DVDs, where their images appear on the box covers. Under their contracts, they were supposed to be paid 5% from the net proceeds of merchandising if their sole images were used, and half that amount if they were in a group. CBS said it owed the actors $8,500 and $9,000 each, most of it from slot machine revenues, but the group said they were owed millions. The lawsuit was initiated after Ross was informed by a friend playing slots at a casino of a "Happy Days" machine on which players win the jackpot when five Marion Rosses are rolled.
In October 2011, a judge rejected the group's fraud claim, which meant they could not receive millions of dollars in potential damages. On June 5, 2012, a judge denied a motion filed by CBS to have the case thrown out, which meant it would go to trial on July 17 if the matter were not settled by then. In July 2012, the actors settled their lawsuit with CBS. Each received a payment of $65,000 and a promise by CBS to continue honoring the terms of their contracts. Williams said, "I'm very satisfied with the settlement. And that's all I can say."
|1971||Owen Marshall, Counselor at Law||Steve Baggot||Episode: "Eulogy for a Wide Receiver"|
|1972||Love, American Style||Potsie Weber||Episode: "Love and the Happy Days" (pilot for Happy Days)|
|1972||The Paul Lynde Show||Jimmy||Episode: "Whiz Kid Sizzles as Quiz Fizzles"|
|1973||Bridget Loves Bernie||Young Man||Episode: "Life Begins at 65"|
|1973||Marcus Welby, M.D.||Episode: "The Panic Path"|
|1973||Lisa, Bright and Dark||Brian Morris||TV movie|
|1974–1984||Happy Days||Potsie Weber||Main cast (219 episodes)|
|1976||Laverne & Shirley||Potsie Weber||Episode: "Excuse Me, May I Cut In?"|
|1977||The Love Boat||Sean McGlynn||Episode: "The Old Man and the Runaway/The Painters/A Fine Romance"|
|1978||The Hanna-Barbera Happy Hour||Himself (Guest Star)||Episode #1.2|
|1978||Greatest Heroes of the Bible||Nabar||Episode: "The Ten Commandments"|
|1983||Fantasy Island||Dan O'Dwyer||Episode: "The Songwriter/Queen of the Soaps"|
|1984||I Married a Centerfold||Nick Bellows||TV movie|
|1992||The Happy Days Reunion Special||Himself||TV special|
|1995||Fudge||Waiter||Episode: "No Exit"|
|1996||Boy Meets World||Himself||Episode: "I Was a Teenage Spy"|
|2000||Baywatch||Councilman McKenna||Episodes: "Soul Survivor", "Dream Girl"|
|2002||Son of the Beach||Warden Jack Beatty||Episode: "Jailhouse Notch: Part 2"|
|2003||Sabrina the Teenage Witch||Potsie Weber||Episode: "Sabrina in Wonderland"|
|2005||Happy Days: 30th Anniversary Reunion||Himself||TV special|
|2016||The Odd Couple||Clayton||Episode: "Taffy Days"|
|1985||ABC Afterschool Special||Episode: "No Greater Gift"|
|1986||WonderWorks||Episode: "Lone Star Kid"|
|1986||CBS Schoolbreak Special||Episode: "The Drug Knot"|
|1987||L.A. Law||Episode: "Brackman Vasektimized"|
|1987–1988||Hooperman||Episodes: "Baby Talk", "Blaste from the Past", "In Search of Bijoux"|
|1988||Just the Ten of Us||Episode: "The Merry Mix-Up"|
|1989||Your Mother Wears Combat Boots||TV movie|
|1989||Dream Date||TV movie|
|1989||Little White Lies||TV movie|
|1990||Glory Days||Episodes: "Blastin' Away the Blues", "Tammy Tell Me True"|
|1990||A Quiet Little Neighborhood, a Perfect Little Murder||TV movie|
|1993–1994||Diagnosis: Murder||4 episodes|
|1994||Heaven Help Us||Episode: "The Wall"|
|1994–1995||Robin's Hoods||Episodes: "To Heir is Human", "Deja Vu"|
|1995||Live Shot||4 episodes|
|1995–1996||seaQuest 2032||7 episodes|
|1996||The Cape||Episodes: "The Need to Know", "Reggie's Wild Ride"|
|1996||Xena: Warrior Princess||Episode: "Remember Nothing"|
|1996||Hercules: The Legendary Journeys||Episodes: "King for a Day", "Mummy Dearest"|
|1996–1999||Melrose Place||9 episodes|
|1996–2000||Beverly Hills, 90210||9 episodes|
|1997||The Pretender||Episode: "The Better Part of Valor"|
|1997||Clueless||Episode: "Sharing Cher"|
|1997–1998||Star Trek: Deep Space Nine||Episodes: "Statistical Probabilities", "It's Only a Paper Moon"|
|1997–1999||Star Trek: Voyager||4 episodes|
|1998||The Net||Episode: "Chem Club"|
|1998||Love Boat: The Next Wave||Episodes: "How Long Has Thing Been Going On?", "Reunion"|
|1998–1999||7th Heaven||Episodes: "Cutters", "Come Drive with Me"|
|1999||Cousin Skeeter||Episodes: "The Not-So-Great Outdoors", "The Volcano"|
|1999–2000||Profiler||Episodes: "Infidelity", "Mea Culpa"|
|1999–2003||Sabrina the Teenage Witch||10 episodes|
|2000–2001||Charmed||Episodes: "Awakened", "All Halliwell's Eve", "The Demon Who Came in from the Cold"|
|2001||Titans||Episode: "She Stoops to Conquer"|
|2001–2002||The Nightmare Room||Episodes: "Scareful What You Wish For", "My Name is Evil"|
|2001–2003||Lizzie McGuire||7 episodes|
|2002||Body & Soul||Episode: "Running Home"|
|2006||Sons & Daughters||Episode: "Surprise Party"|
|2008–2013||The Secret Life of the American Teenager||31 episodes|
- "Free Family Tree, Genealogy, Family History, and DNA Testing". www.myheritage.com. Retrieved September 16, 2020.
- "Anson Williams". Internet Movie Database (IMDb). Retrieved August 3, 2011.
- Rose, David (2010). "Mentally I'm a Size Eight". Sexually, I'm More of a Switzerland: More Personal Ads from the London Review of Books. Simon and Schuster. p. 22. ISBN 9781439131497. Retrieved August 3, 2011.
- Bloom, Nate (September 16, 2008). "Jewish Stars". Cleveland Jewish News.
- "Love, American Style: Love and the Happy Days/Love and the Newscasters". IMDb. Retrieved August 3, 2011.
- "Happy Days". IMDb. Retrieved August 3, 2011.
- Whitburn, Joel (2013). Joel Whitburn’s Top Pop Singles, 14th Edition: 1955-2012. Record Research. p. 913.
- "Boy Meets World: I Was a Teenage Spy". IMDb. Retrieved August 3, 2011.
- "Sabrina, the Teenage Witch: Sabrina in Wonderland". IMDb. Retrieved August 3, 2011.
- "Buddy Holly: How Four LA Rockers Created the Definitive Hipster-Doofus Battle Cry", Ryan Domball, Blender, November 2008
- "USPTO Celebrates Trademarks". United States Patent and Trademark Office. Archived from the original on September 21, 2012. Retrieved August 3, 2011.
- Zamost, Scott (April 20, 2011). "'Happy Days' actors claim fraud, money owed for merchandising". CNNMoney.
- Gardner, Eriq (June 5, 2012). "'Happy Days' Actors Win Key Ruling in CBS Lawsuit". The Hollywood Reporter.
- Scott, Zamost (June 5, 2012). "'Happy Days' cast members' lawsuit heading for trial". CNN.
- Daley, Sean (August 6, 2012). "Chachi done with broke Joanie". New York Post.
- Zamost, Scott (July 7, 2012). "'Happy Days' actors settle lawsuit with CBS". CNN.
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