A Hollywood legend has passed and he will forever be known as The Green Hornet opposite the iconic Bruce Lee as Kato in the 1966 series. Van Williams passed away on November 29 at the age of 82.
Born on February 27, 1934 in Fort Worth, Texas, Van Williams left for Hawaii in 1956, where he got a job as a diving instructor when noted producer Mike Todd discovered him. Van would take vocal and acting lessons, which led to signing with Warner Brothers in 1959, the same year Todd tragically passed away in a plane crash.
Williams was primarily a television actor, co-starring in Bourbon Street Beat, Surfside 6, and other various films. He did make film appearances in 1960’s Tall Story and 1963’s The Caretakers. Then in 1966, Williams really broke through when he was cast in the one-season series The Green Hornet as the titular character and his alter ego alongside the legend Bruce Lee as Kato.
After the series was cancelled, Williams had sporadically appeared in television series until 1982, when he retired from acting. He started a communications company in Santa Monica that leases time on six two-way radio repeater stations. He did come out of retirement in 1993 when he made a cameo appearance in Dragon: The Bruce Lee Story as a director of the very series he starred in.
Williams is survived by his wife, five children, and five grandchildren. World Film Geek sends its condolences to the family of Van Williams.
As a final tribute, here is the opening to The Green Hornet, courtesy of YouTube user tvradiodude:
Rest in Peace, Van Williams, forever The Green Hornet.