Happy Birthday Billy Dee Williams! 77 years of #smooth! He was born William December Williams in Harlem with his twin sister Loretta and graduated from Fiorello H. LaGuardia High School, the school that would later become known for the film and the television series, “Fame.” He was on scholarship at the National Academy of Fine Arts and Design when he returned to the acting he dabbled in as a child. He spent a few years doing small roles in theater before getting his first film role in the 1959 film, “The Last Angry Man.” Many of us swoon and think of Mr. Williams’s in “Lady Sings the Blues” and “Mahogany” with Diana Ross of course. However, the breakthrough role that opened the door for those parts was in the film “Brian’s Song,” as Chicago Bears football player, Gale Sayers. The film was based on Mr. Sayer’s friendship with his teammate, Brian Piccolo, who died of cancer at age 26 in 1970. Mr. Williams told Roger Ebert in 1975, “Right before “Brian’s Song” there was a period when I was very despondent, broke, depressed, my first marriage was on the rocks. The role of Gale Sayers had been cast with Lou Gossett, and then he hurt himself playing basketball. I was called in to read for the role. I was their last choice, and I knew it. I was very down, and I read the role that way, and the chemistry with Caan was good, so they hired me. That was the turning point. Sometimes I think there are spiritual forces that guide me and protect me, and know where to take me.” Photo: People magazine.