Van Williams, Star of TV’s Green Hornet, Dead at 82

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THE BIG VALLEY
Photo: ABC Photo Archives/ABC via Getty Images

Van Williams, best known for his turn as the Green Hornet in the 1966 TV series, died last week of kidney failure, reports Variety. He was 82. The actor got his start when he was discovered by producer Michael Todd (Around the World in 80 Days) while working as a skin-diving instructor in Hawaii in 1957. Todd convinced him to come to Hollywood, where he made his television debut in an installment of General Electric Theater. After a part as one of the P.I.s on Bourbon Street Beat (1959–1960), he landed his defining role in the short-lived Green Hornet. Adapted from a popular 1930s radio serial, the series told the story of a playboy publisher Britt Reid, who donned a mask and solved crime along with his manservant, played on television by Bruce Lee. Though William also appeared in various series, including The Beverly Hillbillies and The Dick Van Dyke Show, he left his screen career almost entirely by the late ‘70s and became a volunteer firefighter and reserve deputy sheriff in Malibu. He is survived by his wife of 57 years, Vicki Williams, and children Nina, Tia, and Britt.

Van Williams, TV’s Green Hornet, Dead at 82