In addition to his acting, what other talent does Billy Dee Williams have that is recognized worldwide?
William December “Billy Dee” Williams Jr. (born 1937) is an American actor well known for his onscreen acting role as Lando Calrissian in the ‘Star Wars’ franchise. He first appeared in ‘The Empire Strikes Back’ (1980) and ‘Return of the Jedi’ (1983). It was 36 years later that he appeared in ‘The Rise of Skywalker (2019), marking one of the longest intervals between onscreen portrayals of a character by the same actor in American film history.
He grew up with his twin sister Loretta in Harlem in New York City. His family was richly cultured- his mom studied opera of years, and was an accomplished opera star. The twins were exposed at an early age to drawing, painting, theaters and similar creative experiences. Billy Dee remained a fan of the arts including opera. In 1945 he made his Broadway theatre debut at age 7 in ‘The Firebrand of Florence’.
He is also a talented painter. Many of his paintings have been shown in galleries and collections world-wide. He attended Booker T. Washington Junior High School where he had dreams of being a painter. He graduate from LaGuardia High School of Music & Art, where he majored in art with a focus on the visual arts. He won a painting scholarship to the National Academy of Fine Arts and Design, where he won a Hallgarten Prize for painting in the mid- 1950s. To fund his need for art supplies, he returned to acting, including stage, films and television.