Montel Brian Anthony Williams
July 3, 1956
|Alma mater||United States Naval Academy (B.S.)|
|Spouse(s)||Rochele See (1982–89)|
Grace Morley (1992–2000)
Tara Fowler (2007–present)
|Service/||United States Navy|
United States Marine Corps
|Years of service||1974–1996|
Montel Brian Anthony Williams (born July 3, 1956) is an American former television host, actor and motivational speaker. He is best known as host of the long-running daytime tabloid talk show The Montel Williams Show, which ran in syndication from 1991 to 2008. He currently hosts "Military Makeover: Operation Career" on Lifetime. Williams is active with the nonprofit MS Foundation, which he founded after being diagnosed with multiple sclerosis in 1999. Additionally, he is noted for his service in both the United States Marine Corps and the United States Navy, from which he retired after 22 years of service.
Early life and education
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 he was active in countywide student government issues in Annapolis, Maryland.
Williams enlisted in the United States Marine Corps in 1974. He completed the one-year Naval Academy Preparatory School course and then in 1975, he was accepted as the first black Marine into the four-year officer training program at the U.S. Naval Academy.
He graduated in 1980 with a degree in general engineering and a minor in international security affairs. He completed Naval Cryptologic Officer training, and spent 18 months in Guam as a cryptologic officer for naval intelligence. He was later supervising cryptologic officer with the Naval Security Fleet Support Division at Fort Meade, Maryland. It was there Williams worked for the National Security Agency, where he was involved in the U.S. invasion of Grenada in 1983, known as Operation Urgent Fury. On several occasions, he worked to secure the release of United States citizens — typically military personnel who had been captured in foreign lands — returned to U.S. soil. After 17 years of active duty and 5 more as a reservist, Williams retired in 1996 from the Naval Reserve at the rank of lieutenant commander after 22 years of service. His awards include two Meritorious Service Medals, two Navy Commendation Medals, the National Defense Service Medal, the Navy Achievement Medal, two Navy Expeditionary Medals, the Armed Forces Expeditionary Medal and two Humanitarian Service Medals.
The Montel Williams Show
Williams began The Montel Williams Show (syndicated by CBS Paramount Television) in 1991. 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 had terminated The Montel Williams Show when key Fox-owned stations chose not to renew it for the 2008–09 season. On May 16, 2008, the last episode of The Montel Williams Show aired. Speculation followed the end of The Montel Williams Show, which was cancelled immediately after Williams criticized mainstream news media's preference for stories about Hollywood stars over those about military personnel and events. Commentators felt his statements may have alienated the Fox TV Network.[better source needed]
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 the fellow talkers had appeared together since their programs left the air.
Williams work has been criticized by the Independent Investigations Group, which declared The Montel Williams Show to be noteworthy Truly Terrible Television with its satirical TTTV award (for similar reasons, awarded to "every episode featuring Sylvia Browne").
Controversial self-declared psychic Sylvia Browne featured frequently on The Montel Williams Show from 1991 until its finale in 2008. Williams described Browne as "the most-appearing guest on a talk show in the history of television" and "the longest-running guest in daytime television", and her appearances included particularly controversial incidents relating to kidnap victims Shawn Hornbeck and Amanda Berry. Williams was criticized for allowing his high-profile show to serve as a channel for Browne, notably by fellow retired military officer Hal Bidlack, with Bidlack publicly asking, "Commander Williams, have you lost your honor?" In February 2019, an episode of Last Week Tonight with John Oliver featured a segment on television psychics and Williams' association with Browne was criticized.
Williams has also guest-starred in episodic television and off-Broadway plays. Among other roles, he portrayed a Navy SEAL, Lieutenant Curtis Rivers, 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. In 1997 he played Lt Col Northrop, a USAF nuclear missile silo commander, in the fictional movie The Peacekeeper. In 2002, he played the judge presiding over Erica Kane's (Susan Lucci) murder trial on the ABC soap opera All My Children. 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 The New Adventures of Robin Hood 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. He was also a voice actor in 2008 in the political satire film War, Inc., providing the voice of the main character's GPS tracking device/counselor.
On October 1, 2019, Williams appeared in an episode of the Fox drama The Resident entitled, "Flesh of My Flesh". Williams played himself, as a TV personality covering a nearly impossible cancer surgery being performed on an adoptive mother of seven.
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. In 1999, Williams directed the film, Little Pieces, starring Grace Morley and Amy Acton.
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".
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." In 2010 Williams became chief spokesman for the Poker Training Network, now Card Geniuses, a MLM-based poker instruction and playing website.
Payday loan controversy
Williams is a paid spokesperson for MoneyMutual, a lead generator for a payday lending service. In early 2015, a controversy around this position erupted when an education activist, André-Tascha Lammé, accused Williams on Twitter of supporting a company that harms African-American consumers. Williams denied the allegations, stating that Lammé was fundamentally incorrect in his assessment of the loans and their terms. The New York State Department of Financial Services then investigated the claims and Benjamin Lawsky issued a statement on March 10 that it "made no finding of a violation of law by Mr. Williams." He added that the department had found that "Using Mr. Williams's reputation as a trusted celebrity endorser, MoneyMutual marketed loans to struggling consumers with sky-high interest rates - sometimes in excess of 1,300 percent." SellingSource, the parent company, was fined $2.1 million and ordered to stop advertising to New Yorkers.
Williams is an outspoken advocate for US military veterans. He has publicly lobbied for government action to promptly resolve the Veterans Affairs scandal calling for a surge in effort under the banner VASURGE, and has promoted a White House petition to this effect. Williams' campaign to reform the VA began with an impromptu speech to veterans at a picnic that was recorded by the local newspaper. Several days later, he authored an op-ed laying out his plan to reform the VA.
On April 6, 2009, Williams began hosting a daily radio show, Montel Across America, on Air America Media. On January 21, 2010, Air America ceased broadcasting, leaving Williams without a radio outlet.
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.
On October 1, 2014, Williams spoke in front of a Congressional committee in support of Marine Sgt. Andrew Tahmooressi, who was arrested in Tijuana, Baja California, for carrying guns across the U.S.-Mexican border.
Williams was once a Republican, leaving the political party in 1993. He is a supporter of LGBT rights. He has since left the Republican Party and has been registered as an independent. He endorsed Hillary Clinton for president as the superior choice, writing that Donald Trump posed a "clear and present danger" to the nation.
On September 2, 2021, Williams was appointed as a Director on the Board of Better For You Wellness, Inc.
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. They have a son, Montel Brian Hank Williams (b. 1993), and a daughter, Wyntergrace Williams (b. 1994). The couple divorced in 2000.
In 2001, Williams briefly dated Kamala Harris, who later went on to become Vice President of the United States. Addressing the relationship, Williams tweeted in 2020, "Kamala Harris and I briefly dated about 20 years ago when we were both single. So what? I have great respect for Sen. Harris."
Williams participated in the 2007 World Series of Poker main event, 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.
Four months after making a guest appearance in an episode of Touched by an Angel, Williams was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis in 1999. In the following year, Williams created the MS Foundation, a nonprofit organization with a focus on research and education. Williams has openly stated that he uses medical cannabis, stating it helps to ease his multiple sclerosis-caused neuropathic pain. Williams has become a vocal advocate of cannabis, supporting efforts to pass medical cannabis laws in the United States, as well as calling for full legalization. He has also said that snowboarding is his "best therapy" for multiple sclerosis, 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."
- 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.
- 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.
- Williams, Montel; Grobel, Lawrence (2005-01-04). Climbing Higher. NAL Trade. ISBN 978-0-451-21398-3.
- Montel Williams to host national convention opening. American Legion. Retrieved May 26, 2021.
- Montel Williams, A Lifetime of Service. U.S. Veterans Magazine. Retrieved May 26, 2021.
- Montel Williams at Omega Eomega.org. Retrieved May 26, 2021.
- 24 cultural icons who served in the US military: Montel Williams served in the US Navy Reserve for 22 years. Business Insider. Retrieved May 26, 2021.
- The Official Montel Williams Site. Montelwilliams.com. Retrieved on 2013-01-07.
- "Point of Inquiry. Montel Williams: Leading a Surge on the Veterans Administration". Center For Inquiry. July 2, 2014. Archived from the original on November 5, 2014.
- "Williams to retire as city fire chief". baltimoresun.com. Archived from the original on 10 January 2017. Retrieved 7 May 2018.
- Navy honors Montel Williams. militarynews.com. Retrieved May 26, 2021.
- "Famous Veterans: Montel Williams". Military.com. Retrieved 8 June 2020.
- Interview with Montel Williams - by Dr. Gillian Friedman and Chet Cooper. Ability Magazine. Retrieved May 26, 2021.
- Williams, Montel, LCDR - USN Veteran. TogetherWeServed. Retrieved May 26, 2021.
- 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. Archived from the original on July 13, 2011. Retrieved 2010-12-07.
- Littleton, Cynthia. (2008-01-30) Variety – Montel Williams calls it quits Archived 2010-09-13 at the Wayback Machine. Variety.com. Retrieved on 2013-01-07.
- Montel Williams – Bonus Videos Archived 2008-05-11 at the Wayback Machine. Montelshow.com. Retrieved on 2013-01-07.
- "Montel Williams Loses Job after Defending Troops on Fox News". 2008-01-30. Archived from the original on 2014-11-05.
- from Donahue, Sally Jessy, Geraldo, Montel, Ricki: Talk show hosts—where are they now? Archived 2011-06-17 at the Wayback Machine. Oprah.com (2010-11-10). Retrieved on 2013-01-07.
- "IIG | The IIG Awards". Iigwest.com. 2010-08-21. Archived from the original on 2011-07-18. Retrieved 2011-07-01.
- "Montel's final show with Sylvia Browne". Youtube. 2008. Archived from the original on 2015-05-19.
- David Moye (November 2013). "Sylvia Browne: Dead Psychic's Legacy Riddled With Failed Predictions, Fraud". Huffington Post. Archived from the original on 2014-11-05.
- Bidlack, Hal. "An Open Letter to Lt. Commander Montel Williams, USN (Ret). A fellow retired military officer asks Montel Williams a very serious question". Robert S. Lancaster. Archived from the original on March 23, 2015.CS1 maint: unfit URL (link)
- "Open Letter to Montel Williams: An Answer?". Robert Lancaster. Archived from the original on July 6, 2015.CS1 maint: unfit URL (link)
- IMDb, Last Week Tonight, Episode #6.2, retrieved 2019-02-25
- Rosenberg, Howard (1996-01-03). "Next Up on Montel: Host Turns Actor". The Los Angeles Times. Archived from the original on 2011-07-13. Retrieved 2010-12-07.
- "Montel Williams to Guest Star on Guiding Light". Soaps.com. 2008-07-21. Retrieved 2019-09-06.
- War, Inc. (2008) - IMDb, retrieved 2019-09-06
- Starline Films Archived 2010-08-04 at the Wayback Machine. Starline Films. Retrieved on 2013-01-07.
- 4Chosen: The Documentary (2008) Archived 2013-01-25 at the Wayback Machine. IMDb
- "Montel Williams". IMDb.
- "Little Pieces (1999)". BFI.
- Montel Threatens to 'Blow Up' Teen Reporter MSNBC.com, December 2, 2007
- "Montel threatens to 'blow up' teen reporter – Entertainment – Celebrities – TODAY.com". Today.com. 2007-02-12. Retrieved 2011-07-22.
- "Small Business Opportunity | Make Money with Poker". Poker Training Network. Archived from the original on 2011-07-15. Retrieved 2011-07-22.
- Grindrod, John (April 16, 2013). "Payday Lenders: Safety Nets or Loan Sharks". The Lima News. Archived from the original on May 28, 2014. Retrieved May 9, 2013.
- Davidson, Jacob (February 27, 2015). "Montel Williams Got Called Out On Twitter For Endorsing Payday Loans—And He Didn't Handle It Well". TIME Magazine. Archived from the original on 1 July 2015. Retrieved 23 June 2015.
- Kieler, Asley (March 2, 2015). "Montel Williams Defends Hawking Payday Loan Generator Money Mutual". Consumerist. Archived from the original on 24 June 2015. Retrieved 23 June 2015.
- Popken, Ben (March 2, 2015). "Montel Williams-Backed Payday Loan Advertiser Fined $2.1 Million". NBC News. Archived from the original on 23 June 2015. Retrieved 23 June 2015.
- Faux, Zeke (March 10, 2015). "Montel Williams Payday Loan Advertiser Fined $2.1 Million". Bloomberg News. Archived from the original on 23 June 2015. Retrieved 23 June 2015.
- "Montel Williams Delivers Emotional Speech to Military Heroes — What Happens at the Two-Minute Mark Reveals His Character". theblaze.com. 26 May 2014. Archived from the original on 26 August 2016. Retrieved 7 May 2018.
- "Montel Williams: The VA Scandal is a National Outrage that is Merely a Symptom of a Greater Problem". theblaze.com. 28 May 2014. Archived from the original on 26 August 2016. Retrieved 7 May 2018.
- Montel Williams to Host Radio Show Archived 2009-03-27 at the Wayback Machine Yahoo News, March 13, 2009
- Air America flies away for good Archived 2012-01-05 at the Wayback Machine The A.V. Club (2010-01-21).
- Media Spots | Living Well | Montel Archived 2011-08-10 at the Wayback Machine. LifeLock (2010-07-28). Retrieved on 2013-01-07.
- Andrews, Helena (October 1, 2014). "Montel Williams testifies on the Hill, breaks down in tears". Washington Post. Washington, D.C. Archived from the original on October 2, 2014. Retrieved October 2, 2014.
- "20 Questions with Montel Williams". The Hill. Archived from the original on 2016-10-27.
- "Caitlyn Jenner to attend Cleveland LGBT brunch during GOP convention". Archived from the original on 2016-07-10.
- Williams, Montel (17 August 2016). "Montel Williams: I'm with Hillary Clinton". USA TODAY. Archived from the original on 17 August 2016. Retrieved 18 August 2016.
- Inc, Fast Track Solutions (2021-09-02). "Better For You Wellness Appoints Montel Williams, Leslie Bumgarner, Joseph Watson, David Deming, and Dr. Nicola Finley, MD to its Board of Directors". GlobeNewswire News Room. Retrieved 2021-09-15.
- Williams, Montel (17 May 2018). "Cura Cannabis Is Producing Montel Williams' CBD Line For National Distribution". Formes. Retrieved 12 June 2019.
- "Montel Williams". IMDb. Archived from the original on 13 July 2016. Retrieved 7 May 2018.
- "Kamala Harris Once Dated Talk Show Host Montel Williams". Inside Edition. Retrieved 8 August 2020.
- Montel Williams Marries – Weddings, Montel Williams. People. Retrieved on 2013-01-07. Archived October 31, 2008, at the Wayback Machine
- "Las Vegas Now". Archived from the original on 2009-01-08. Retrieved 2008-05-13.
- Lander, David L. (December 11, 2000). "Montel, There's More to the MS Battle". The Los Angeles Times. Archived from the original on July 13, 2011. Retrieved 2010-12-07.
- "Montel Williams diagnosed with multiple sclerosis". CNN. Archived from the original on 2010-09-12.
- "The Montel Williams MS Foundation". Montelms.org. Archived from the original on 2011-07-26. Retrieved 2011-07-22.
- "Montel Williams uses Medical Marijuana for Multiple Sclerosis". Blog.dopies.com. 2004-01-08. Archived from the original on 2011-07-13. Retrieved 2011-07-22.
- Marimow, Ann (January 20, 2011). "Montel Williams lends support to Maryland's medical marijuana effort". The Washington Post. Retrieved January 24, 2011.
- Kugel, Allison (2006-01-23). "Montel Williams on MS, Legalizing Marijuana and 15 Years of Making Television History". PR.com. Archived from the original on December 3, 2010. Retrieved January 24, 2011.
- "Interview with Montel Williams". Ability Magazine. n.d. Archived from the original on February 12, 2012. Retrieved April 2, 2012.
- "Montel Williams Is 'Blessed to Be Alive' After Life-Threatening Cerebellar Hemorrhagic Stroke". People.
- BodyChange. Mountain Movers. 1 June 2001. ISBN 1588250040.
- Bodychange. Hay House. 1 October 2003. ISBN 1401903142.
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