Before Van Williams donned the mask and black coat to anonymously fight crime in The Green Hornet ( 1966 ), he sported bathing trunks and brawny muscles on a daily basis to instruct both men and women in the aquatic art of skin diving. Unbeknownst to many, this hunky hero of television fame was a professional skin diver in Hawaii when he was discovered by producer Mike Todd in 1957.
Williams was an all-around athlete even in his youth. In highschool he set records in the hurdle-race....in college he played football for Texas Christian. Mike Todd perished in an airplane accident shortly after he asked Williams to come to California for an audition, but that didn't deter the young man. After some acting lessons and vocal coaching he headed to the mainland on his own, and landed some guest spots in television before he was signed by Warner Bros in 1959. Williams portrayed Kenny Madison in the television series Bourbon Street Beat ( 1959-1960 ) which later spun-off into the series Surfside 6 ( 1960-1962 ). In both shows he portrayed a detective. This training, combined with his muscular physique, came in handy when he was asked to squash criminals on a daily basis in the popular series, The Green Hornet.
This entry is the first in our latest series entitled "Did You Know?".....sometimes we just feel like sharing interesting fragments of television and movie history and now we have a place to do just that. If you have a hot tip that you would like us to share on Silver Scenes, drop us a line!