Williams at the 2008 Tribeca Film Festival
|Birth name||Montel Brian Anthony Williams|
July 3, 1956 |
Baltimore, Maryland, United States
|Allegiance||United States of America|
|Service/branch|| United States Marine Corps
United States Navy
|Years of service||1974-1976 (USMC)
1976-1980 (United States Naval Academy)
|Awards||Meritorious Service Medal
Navy Commendation Medal
Navy Achievement Medal
Navy Superior Public Service Award
|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. Williams is also noted for his service in both the Marine Corps and the Navy, from which he was honorably discharged after 15 years of service.
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.
Williams was raised as a Roman Catholic, and served as an altar boy from age 8 until an altercation with a priest when he was 11. After this he moved away from Catholicism, and in 2014 he said that he rejected all organized religion, though he has been a student of many major world faiths.
He frequently visited his sister who lives in Westminster, Maryland. There he met and befriended WOCM's famous news man Magellan. They have been close friends ever since.
Education and military service
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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 boot camp, he was sent to the Desert Warfare Training Center at Marine Corps Air Ground Combat Center Twentynine Palms, near Palm Springs, California, where he placed in the Naval Academy Preparatory School (NAPS) at Naval Station Newport, Rhode Island. He completed the one-year NAPS course and was accepted to the four-year officer training program at the U.S. Naval Academy as part of the Class of 1980.
He arrived at Annapolis on July 6, 1976, and was honorably discharged as a corporal (E-4) from the Marines, and sworn 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-1) 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 Lieutenant (O-3), 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 Navy at the rank of Lieutenant Commander, 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
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 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.
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 has also guest-starred in episodic television and off-Broadway plays. Among other roles, he portrayed a Navy SEAL, Lieutenant 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 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. 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.
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.
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 her 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.
- See also Veterans Affairs scandal 2014
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 has been a conservative Republican and 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 Clinton as the superior choice, writing that Donald Trump poses a "clear and present danger" to the nation.
Criticism and controversy
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 has been 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?" 
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").
Speculation followed the end of The Montel Williams Show which was announced 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.
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 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. He is also featured in Making Music Magazine.
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.
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 states, as well as calling for full legalization. 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."
- 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.
- 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.
- Williams to retire as city fire chief
- 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.
- Littleton, Cynthia. (2008-01-30) Variety – Montel Williams calls it quits. Variety.com. Retrieved on 2013-01-07.
- Montel Williams – Bonus Videos. Montelshow.com. Retrieved on 2013-01-07.
- from Donahue, Sally Jessy, Geraldo, Montel, Ricki: Talk show hosts—where are they now?. Oprah.com (2010-11-10). Retrieved on 2013-01-07.
- Rosenberg, Howard (1996-01-03). "Next Up on Montel: Host Turns Actor". The Los Angeles Times. Retrieved 2010-12-07.
- Starline Films. Starline Films. Retrieved on 2013-01-07.
- 4Chosen: The Documentary (2008). imdb.com
- Montel Threatens to 'Blow Up' Teen Reporter MSNBC.com, December 2, 2007
- "Montel threatens to 'blow up' teen reporter – Entertainment – Celebrities – TODAY.com". MSNBC. 2007-02-12. Retrieved 2011-07-22.
- "Small Business Opportunity | Make Money with Poker". Pokertrainingnetwork.com. Retrieved 2011-07-22.
- Grindrod, John (April 16, 2013). "Payday Lenders: Safety Nets or Loan Sharks". The Lima News. 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. Retrieved 23 June 2015.
- Kieler, Asley (March 2, 2015). "Montel Williams Defends Hawking Payday Loan Generator Money Mutual". Consumerist. Retrieved 23 June 2015.
- Popken, Ben (March 2, 2015). "Montel Williams-Backed Payday Loan Advertiser Fined $2.1 Million". NBC News. Retrieved 23 June 2015.
- Faux, Zeke (March 10, 2015). "Montel Williams Payday Loan Advertiser Fined $2.1 Million". Bloomberg News. Retrieved 23 June 2015.
- Montel Williams to Host Radio Show Yahoo News, March 13, 2009
- Air America flies away for good The A.V. Club (2010-01-21).
- Media Spots | Living Well | Montel. 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. Retrieved October 2, 2014.
- "Caitlyn Jenner to attend Cleveland LGBT brunch during GOP convention".
- Williams, Montel (17 August 2016). "Montel Williams: I'm with Hillary Clinton". USA TODAY. Retrieved 18 August 2016.
- "Montel's final show with Sylvia Browne". Youtube. 2008.
- David Moye (November 2013). "Sylvia Browne: Dead Psychic's Legacy Riddled With Failed Predictions, Fraud". Huffington Post.
- 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.
- "Open Letter to Montel Williams: An Answer?". Robert Lancaster. Archived from the original on July 6, 2015.
- "IIG | The IIG Awards". Iigwest.com. 2010-08-21. Retrieved 2011-07-01.
- "Montel Williams Loses Job after Defending Troops on Fox News". 2008-01-30.
- IMDB Biography for Montel Williams
- Montel Williams Marries – Weddings, Montel Williams. People.com. Retrieved on 2013-01-07 . Archived October 31, 2008, at the Wayback Machine.
- "Las Vegas Now". Retrieved 2008-05-13.
- Lander, David L. (December 11, 2000). "Montel, There's More to the MS Battle". The Los Angeles Times. Retrieved 2010-12-07.
- "Montel Williams diagnosed with multiple sclerosis". CNN.
- "The Montel Williams MS Foundation". Montelms.org. Retrieved 2011-07-22.
- "Montel Williams uses Medical Marijuana for Multiple Sclerosis". Blog.dopies.com. 2004-01-08. Retrieved 2011-07-22.
- Marimow, Ann (2011-01-20). "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. Retrieved January 24, 2011.
- "Interview with Montel Williams". Ability Magazine. n.d. Retrieved 2012-04-02.
- Body Change: Amazon Books
- Body Change: Amazon Books
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