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William Katt

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William Katt
Katt in 2014
William Theodore Katt

(1951-02-16) February 16, 1951 (age 73)
Other namesBilly Katt
  • Actor
  • musician
Years active1970–present
Deborah Kahane
(m. 1979; div. 1992)
Danielle Hirsch
(m. 1993)

William Theodore Katt (born February 16, 1951) is an American actor and musician. He is best known for his starring role as Ralph Hinkley/Hanley on the ABC television series The Greatest American Hero (1981–83).

Katt first became known for playing Tommy Ross, the ill-fated prom date of Carrie White in the original film version of Carrie (1976). He subsequently starred in films such as First Love (1977), Big Wednesday (1978) and Butch and Sundance: The Early Days (1979). Between 1985 and 1988, he starred in nine Perry Mason television films alongside his mother Barbara Hale, who reprised her role as Della Street from the television series Perry Mason.

Early life[edit]

Katt was born in Los Angeles to actors Bill Williams (birth name Herman August Wilhelm Katt) and Barbara Hale. He grew up in the San Fernando Valley and began acting as a teenager, sometimes appearing with his parents.[1] He graduated from Army and Navy Academy, Carlsbad, California.


William Katt, 2008, at San Diego Comic-Con

Katt attended Orange Coast College before pursuing a career as a musician. Inspired by his father, he then started an acting career, appearing in summer stock theatre and in small television roles. His earliest film credits include the role of a jock, Tommy Ross in Brian De Palma's 1976 horror film adaptation Carrie, which allowed Katt to make a name for himself. In 1978, he appeared as Barlow, a young surfer, in the John Milius drama film Big Wednesday opposite Jan-Michael Vincent and Gary Busey. His mother in that film was his real-life mother, Barbara Hale. The following year he took the role of Sundance Kid in the 1979 film Butch and Sundance: The Early Days. The role in Big Wednesday made him so well known in the surfing community that in 2004 he presented one of the Association of Surfing Professionals awards at their annual World Championship Tour ceremony to wild applause from the crowd of professional surfers. Katt explained in a 1979 interview with critic Roger Ebert that he was holding out only for parts that were personally interesting to him.[2]

In December 1975, Katt auditioned for the part of Luke Skywalker in 1977's science fiction blockbuster Star Wars Episode IV: A New Hope, and footage of his audition has been featured in many Star Wars documentaries. He was seriously considered for the role, which went to Mark Hamill, and Katt instead starred that year in First Love, playing a college student who experiences his first romantic relationship.

In 1981, Katt was cast as the title role in a filmed version of the Broadway musical comedy Pippin, which received mixed reviews. He won his best remembered role that year, however, as Ralph Hinkley, a mild-mannered schoolteacher given a superpowered suit by aliens on the popular television series The Greatest American Hero, a role he played until the show was canceled in 1983. Also starring veteran actor Robert Culp, the show retains a cult fanbase. Its theme song, "Believe It or Not", penned by Mike Post, also became a hit in the music charts. In 1982, due to the success of the first season of The Greatest American Hero, Katt signed to MCA and released a soft rock album, Secret Smiles under the name Billy Katt.

After The Greatest American Hero, Katt starred in Baby: Secret of the Lost Legend (1985), about explorers searching for apatosaurs in Africa, and the cult horror/comedy film House (1986); he later reprised his role for the third sequel, House IV, in 1992. Between 1985 and 1988, Katt starred in nine Perry Mason television films, playing the role of private detective Paul Drake Jr., son of Paul Drake, a fictional private detective in the Perry Mason television series and the Perry Mason series of detective stories written by Erle Stanley Gardner; Katt co-starred with his mother Barbara Hale, who reprised her role of Della Street from the Perry Mason television series. Katt starred in the 1989 TV series Top of the Hill and made a guest appearance on the first episode of the short-lived 1991 series Good Sports.

Katt continues to appear on television and in supporting film roles, and does voice acting as well. He appeared in an episode of House in 2006. In recent years, he has returned to genre work, with appearances in Andromeda and Justice League and roles in the award-winning film Gamers (2006), The Man from Earth (2007), and Alien vs Hunter (2007).

Katt briefly appeared in Heroes season 3 in "The Butterfly Effect" as a nosy reporter investigating Ali Larter's character. He portrayed Jack Matheson in the thriller film Mirrors 2.[3] In 2010 during season 6, Katt guest starred as C.J. Payne's musician birth-father in the episode "Who's Your Daddy Now?" in the Tyler Perry comedy House of Payne.

Katt also has written a Greatest American Hero comic book and contributed to that series' Facebook page.[4]

In 2013, Katt played himself in the spoof film Paranormal Movie directed by Kevin Farley. In 2014, he appeared in The Unwanted. In 2020, he appeared in The 2nd.

Personal life[edit]

Katt married Deborah Kahane in 1979 and they have two sons, Clayton and Emerson. They divorced in 1992.[5]

He married Danielle Hirsch in 1993 and has a daughter with her, Dakota, as well as a stepson, Andrew.[6]

Selected filmography[edit]


Year Title Role Notes
1971 The Late Liz Peter Addams Film debut
1976 Carrie Tommy Ross
1977 First Love Elgin Smith
1978 Big Wednesday Jack Barlow
1979 Butch and Sundance: The Early Days Sundance Kid
1985 Baby: Secret of the Lost Legend George Loomis
1986 House Roger Cobb
1988 White Ghost Steve Shepard
1989 Rising Storm Elliot Kropfeld Uncredited
1989 Wedding Band Marshall Roman
1990 Naked Obsession Franklyn Carlysle
1991 Last Call Paul Avery
1992 House IV: The Repossession Roger Cobb Direct-to-video
1992 Double X: The Name of the Game Michael Cooper
1993 Desperate Motive Richard Sullivan
1994 Cyborg 3: The Recycler Decaf Direct-to-video
1994 The Paperboy Brian
1994 Stranger by Night Troy Rooney Direct-to-video
1994 Tollbooth Waggy
1995 Problem Child 3: Junior in Love Ben Healy, Jr. Direct-to-video
1996 Daddy's Girl Don Mitchell
1997 u'Bejani Father Bob
1997 Whacked Sgt. Niktaukus Short
1998 Hyacinth Andy Gillis
1998 Deadly Game aka Catch me if you can Jean Benoit
1999 Twin Falls Idaho Surgeon
1999 Jawbreaker Mr. Purr
2000 The Clean and Narrow George Director
2000 Learning to Surf
2001 Circuit Gino
2002 Snake Island Malcolm Page
2002 Treading Water The Investor
2003 Descendant Dr. Tom Murray
2005 River's End Ed Kennedy Director
2006 Gamers Reese's Boss
2006 Backstage Pass Kurt Wilson Direct-to-video
2007 The Man from Earth Art
2007 AVH: Alien vs. Hunter Lee Cussler Direct-to-video
2008 Big Game Dave
2008 Beautiful Loser Father Hume
2009 Deadland Shiv
2010 Earthling Ryan Donnelly
2010 Super Sgt. Fitzgibbon
2010 Mirrors 2 Jack Matheson Direct-to-video
2010 Pure Country 2: The Gift Winter
2011 The Encore of Tony Duran Art Smith
2011 Stok Stalk Stock Conscience
2012 Sweetwater Dean Taylor
2013 Sparks Matanza
2013 .357 Smalls
2013 Paranormal Movie Houseguest Bill
2013 The Secret Lives of Dorks Mr. Thomas Gibson
2014 The Unwanted Troy
2015 Subterranea Mockenrue
2017 The Man from Earth: Holocene Dr. Art Jenkins
2018 The Other Side of the Wind Man in Bathroom Stall
2020 The 2nd Senator Bob Jeffers
2021 Overrun Detective Ed Dobbs
2022 Pursuit Taye Biggs


Year Title Role Notes
1981-1983 The Greatest American Hero Ralph Hinkley Lead role
1994 Animaniacs Dr. Roma Voice, episode: "No Face Like Home"[7]
1994 Batman: The Animated Series Zowie Voice, episode: "Riddler's Reform"[7]
2001 Justice League Scott Mason / Green Guardsman Voice, episode: "Legends"[7]
2008 Batman: The Brave and the Bold Hawkman Voice, episode: "The Golden Age of Justice!"[7]
2010 Numbers Sven Regal Episode: "And The Winner is"[8]

Video games[edit]

Year Title Role Notes
2010 Batman: The Brave and the Bold – The Videogame Hawkman Voice[7]


  1. ^ William Katt at IMDb. Retrieved January 28, 2017.
  2. ^ Ebert, Robert (June 29, 1979). "Fame Catches Up to William Katt". It's Friday!. The Spokesman-Review. p. 5. Retrieved November 13, 2022.
  3. ^ Barton, Steve (July 21, 2010). "San Diego Comic-Con 2010: Exclusive Trailer Debut – Mirrors 2". Dread Central.
  4. ^ Spiegel, Danny (June 21, 2010). "Greatest American Hero Worship on July 4th". TV Guide. p. 77. Retrieved July 8, 2023.
  5. ^ Biography for William Katt at IMDb. Retrieved January 28, 2017.
  6. ^ "William Katt Interview! 3-21-11". LittleRedWagonFilms.com. March 21, 2011. Archived from the original on September 28, 2013.
  7. ^ a b c d e "William Katt (visual voices guide)". Behind The Voice Actors. Retrieved October 4, 2023. A green check mark indicates that a role has been confirmed using a screenshot (or collage of screenshots) of a title's list of voice actors and their respective characters found in its opening and/or closing credits and/or other reliable sources of information.
  8. ^ Strachan, Alex (February 5, 2010). "Numb3rs is priceless". Edmonton Journal. p. D5. ProQuest 251475751.

External audio interview. https://www.spreaker.com/user/10945005/cbc-ep-358-william-katt-gah-commentary

External links[edit]