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Anson Williams was born Anson William Heimlick on September 24, 1949 in Los Angeles, California. His father was an art director at an aviation company until layoffs forced him to open a concession booth. Throughout high school, Williams worked nights at his dad's struggling Orange Julius stand on Van Nuys Boulevard.
In his freshman year at Pierce Junior College, Willliams took a drama course and discovered he had knack for performing. He then dropped his plans to become a gym teacher, dropped his last name, and dropped out of college to try his luck as an actor. His first professional jobs were in Kansas where he performed in "The Music Man" and "The Sound of Music."
Besides a string of TV commercials, including several for McDonald's, Williams' first role on television was on an episode of "Owen Marshall, Counselor at Law." Appearances on "The Paul Lynde Show," "Marcus Welby, M.D.," and three variety specials with Tony Randall soon followed.
The role of Potsie on "Happy Days" was the perfect opportunity for Williams to showcase his acting and vocal talents. After hearing him sing backstage, the writers incorporated his singing ability into the show. Williams soon began to perform across the country and released several records.
In 1977, he starred in his own syndicated television special, "Anson Williams at Sea World." In 1981, he and his wife, Lorri Mahaffey, who played his girlfriend on "Happy Days," starred in a television special called "Anson and Lorri." The show was conceived as a pilot for a spin-off, but it failed to sell.
Over the last several years, Williams has compiled an extensive list of credits as a television director. In addition to several television movies, he has directed episodes of "L.A. Law," "Hooperman," "Melrose Place," and "Hercules." In 1987, he and fellow "Happy Days" cast member Al Molinaro (Al) opened a chain of diners in the midwest called, appropriately enough, Big Al's.