Paul Williams: Yes, he’s still alive

Singer/songwriter Paul Williams is probably more known for his acting career. Recently, a documentary was made about him, Paul Williams Still Alive, because many people assumed he has passed away.

Paul Williams is 80 years old and still entertaining, in addition to being the president of ASCAP, which oversees the payment of royalties for songwriters.

“Traveling Boy” recorded by Art Garfunkel is one of my favorite songs, as is “We’ve Only Just Begun”, a huge hit for the the Carpenters.  I was surprised to learn that he co-wrote “Family of Man”, my favorite Three Dog Night song.  Williams has worked with many collaborators through the years including Roger Nichols and Kenny Ascher.

Back in the 1970s, Williams was everywhere: TV variety, films, recordings, talk shows, game shows. He was instantly recognizable by his short stature, long hair and big glasses.  The 1970s was really Williams’ decade. His star faded as the world of entertainment changed, although he never stopped working.  He won an Oscar Award, three Grammy Awards, two Golden Globe Awards, an Ivor Novello International Award, and earned induction into the Songwriters Hall of Fame.  That’s a pretty good career.

From Wikipedia, here are his biggest hit songs.

“Evergreen (Love Theme from A Star Is Born)”, (#1 hit for Barbra Streisand – Billboard Hot 100)
“I Won’t Last a Day Without You”, (#1 hit for Carpenters – Billboard Adult Contemporary)
“Rainy Days and Mondays”, (#1 hit for Carpenters – Billboard Adult Contemporary)
“We’ve Only Just Begun” (#1 hit for Carpenters – Billboard Adult Contemporary)
“The Family of Man” (Canadian #5 hit for Three Dog Night)
“Out in the Country” (#15 hit for Three Dog Night)
“Talk It Over in the Morning” (Canadian #1 hit for Anne Murray)
“You and Me Against the World” (US Easy Listening #1 hit for Helen Reddy)
“Rainbow Connection” (Golden Globe and Oscar-nominated song)


On his own, Williams has released 11 albums of his songs.  He has worked on eight film soundtracks and a couple of theatrical productions.  He has written a few television show themes, the most famous being The Love Boat.

Williams had a starring role in The Phantom of the Paradise, a 1974 rock-fantasy film, where he also wrote the score.  He also worked on several Muppet projects including the first film, The Muppet Movie.  The “bad” songs performed in Ishtar were written by Williams.


Williams has 91 acting credits stretching back to 1965, an uncredited role in The Loved One. His most famous role was Little Enos in the Smokey and the Bandit films, where he paired with Pat McCormick.  Those acting roles were pretty campy, although he did have some fine dramatic moments.

Williams attained his drug and alcohol counselor certification from UCLA, and speaks across the country.  Williams had his own battles with substance abuse during his life.  “I’d spent the 80s slowly disappearing into a career-ending addiction,” he said.  He credits working on The Muppet Christmas Carol for helping to turn his life around. Last year he received the Johnny Mercer Award from the Songwriters Hall of Fame.

If you dial up the 1970s, you’ll find Paul Williams.  You’ll even hear his songs on classic radio.

“The Rainbow Connection”

written by Paul Williams and Kenneth Ascher

Why are there so many
Songs about rainbows
And what’s on the other side?
Rainbows are visions
But only illusions
And rainbows have nothing to hide
So we’ve been told and some choose to believe it
I know they’re wrong wait and see

3 thoughts on “Paul Williams: Yes, he’s still alive

  1. I always loved his writing and his singing. “For the Hell of It” is my all-time favorite of his. And it takes a true talent to write purposeful “bad” songs, for sure. I’m the weird guy who liked Ishtar, by the way!

    Williams is like Russ Ballard. If only accepted as solo artist, what amazing hit-filled albums they would have had to top the charts.


      1. About a month back, I watched him in Euro-concert (I want to say Italy or Greece) on You Tube. Wow, Like Springsteen. A HUGE stadium gig, Crazy how he’s a major star over there.


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