Treat Williams, versatile star of film, TV and stage, dies at 71

Treat Williams, an actor whose nearly 50-year career included starring roles in the TV series “Everwood” and the 1979 movie musical “Hair,” died June 12 after a motorcycle crash in Vermont, state police said. He was 71 and lived in Manchester Center, Vt.

An SUV was turning left into a parking lot when it collided with Mr. Williams’s motorcycle in the town of Dorset, according to a statement from the Vermont State Police. He was thrown from the motorcycle and suffered critical injuries despite wearing a helmet. He was flown to a hospital in Albany, N.Y., where he died.

Richard Treat Williams was born in Stamford, Conn., on Dec. 1, 1951, and grew up in Rowayton, Conn. His father was an executive at Merck chemical.

He graduated in 1969 from the private Kent School in Connecticut and in 1973 from Franklin & Marshall College in Lancaster, Pa., by which point he had amassed a long résumé in community, college and summer theater.

After college, he appeared on Broadway as an understudy for the Danny Zuko role in the musical “Grease” and also was in the 1974 musical “Over Here!” starring the Andrews Sisters.

The next year, he began receiving small film roles until his critical breakthrough as a hippie leader in “Hair.” The part led to several featured and leading roles in bigger-budget Hollywood movies, such as Steven Spielberg’s comedy “1941” (1979) and the gritty police whistleblower drama “Prince of the City” (1981).

Other significant supporting and leading roles followed, notably in the well-reviewed “Once Upon a Time in America” (1984) and “Smooth Talk” (1985), but few gave Mr. Williams a major career boost. He also appeared in an earnest 1984 ABC-TV movie version of the Tennessee Williams melodrama “A Streetcar Named Desire” as Stanley Kowalski to Ann-Margret’s Blanche Dubois.

Over the years, Mr. Williams appeared in dozens of television shows but was perhaps best known for his starring role from 2002 to 2006 in “Everwood” on the WB network. He played a widowed brain surgeon from Manhattan who moves with his two children to the Colorado mountain town of that name.

In addition to theater work, Mr. Williams also had a recurring role as Lenny Ross on the CBS show “Blue Bloods.”

In 1988, he married Pam Van Sant, with whom he had two children. A complete list of survivors was not immediately available.

In a 2022 interview with Vermont magazine, Mr. Williams spoke of his quest for versatility over a drive for traditional stardom.

“I like to think I’ve already proven myself on the ‘crazy meter’ and the ‘dramatic meter’ with ‘Prince of the City’ or with ‘Hair,’” he said, explaining why he took less-demanding roles on the Hallmark Channel in programs such as “Chesapeake Shores” and appeared in a Dolly Parton Christmas special.

“If you’ve done those roles where you’ve gone the distance, why not just relax and know that you have the chance to do a two-page scene every third day,” he added. “The crew always seems happy when I walk in and say good morning to everybody. … There’s a reason people binge-watch Hallmark. They don’t have to feel bad. They can feel good for two hours, and they can forget their troubles. There is a place for that, I think, particularly right now in this world.”

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