Most of the time, they’re not headlining movies nor TV shows. They’re not regulars on TMZ, Entertainment Tonight nor other Hollywood hype machines. And they’re not reality show attention whores who are famous for simply being famous…or trying to be famous. What they are is all too frequently the unheralded; the people whose solidly consistent work affects and often delights us. They’re the ones who don’t always get the credit when the credit is due. We aim to change that.

Name: Michael T. “Mykelti” Williamson

Vital Stats:
– Date of Birth: March 4, 1957
– From: St. Louis, MO
– 6’1.5″ tall


Notable Roles: Rick, Off. Ron Garfield, Wilson, Levander ‘Bird’ Williams, Donovan Aderhold, Pvt. Benjamin Buford ‘Bubba’ Blue, Dwight Mercer, Sgt. Drucker, Troy, Baby-O, Josh Gibson, Dennis Gamble, Lt. Gerard, Don King, Agent Stafford, Chicago Wind.

Career Hiccup(s): The Love Boat, Touched By An Angel

Notable Quotes:

– “Anyway, like I was sayin’, shrimp is the fruit of the sea. You can barbecue it, boil it, broil it, bake it, saute it. Dey’s uh, shrimp-kabobs, shrimp creole, shrimp gumbo. Pan fried, deep fried, stir-fried. There’s pineapple shrimp, lemon shrimp, coconut shrimp, pepper shrimp, shrimp soup, shrimp stew, shrimp salad, shrimp and potatoes, shrimp burger, shrimp sandwich. That- that’s about it.”

– “I paged your ass all day. I can’t stand fuckin’ pagin’.”

– “[Selling] All kinds of shit. But I don’t have to sell this and you know it, ’cause this kind of shit here sells itself.”

– “You black bitches are all the same… Y’all always complaining about how nobody don’t want your ass, don’t nobody know how to treat ya! Then you meet a man, a brother, with genuine interest in ya, and you gotta act simple. Then you wonder why we date white women.”

-” Not only did you not save this dude’s life, you done made best friends with Cyrus the damn Virus!”

– “Let me explain something to you, supernigga. I don’t answer questions. I ask them. Even if I did know who killed that brother of yours, what would make you think I’m gonna tell you? Get your black ass out of my joint before we beat you like a rented mule.”

Why We’re Saluting:

You know this man.  You’ve seen him everywhere: movies, TV, even the news.  He’s taught us everything about shrimp, perpetuated Black stereotypes, hunted down criminals, portrayed criminals, played in the Negro Leagues, flown to Mars and killed aliens with his own blood, cheated death (at least temporarily), fought terrorist threats, played football and promoted boxing matches.  Mykelti Williamson has spent better than 30+ years and eightysomething roles being a reliable supporting player, giving heft to characters that might not otherwise have it with someone else in the role.  He spent the early part of his career cutting his teeth in TV guest appearances on such shows as Starsky & Hutch, Alice, Gimme a Break! and Father Murphy.

He landed a regular role on the short-lived Stephen Bochco show, Bay City Blues, before transitioning to Bochco’s more famous “Blues” project, Hill Street Blues, in a couple of recurring roles.  He also appeared in Streets of Fire and Wildcats around the same time.  A supporting stint on the Jon-Erik Hexum / Jennifer O’Neill action show, Cover Up was, unfortunately,  quite literally blown away.  Numerous other TV guest appearances in shows such as China Beach, The Outer Limits, and Time Trax would follow.  Williamson also landed regular roles on shows which didn’t end up surviving very long, such The Bronx Zoo, Midnight Caller, The New WKRP in Cincinnati, Boomtown and the Fugitive remake.

The role that people generally default to for Williamson is Pvt. Bubba Blue in Forrest Gump, and with good reason.  His was an affecting and memorable character and his signature role to date.  That opened up other roles such as one of Pacino’s guys, Sgt. Drucker. in Heat.  He portrayed the no-account Troy in Waiting To Exhale the same year, and Josh Gibson in Sons of the Game the following year.  Other notable supporting parts include Species II, Three Kings, Ali, After The Sunset, ATL, Black, Dynamite and The Final Destination.  His most recent recurring characters on TV were as Chief Brigham Sinclair on CSI: New York and as CTU Director Brian Hastings, in the final season of 24.

Williamson’s life and career haven’t been without controversy.  In 1998, Williamson was arrested and later tried for attempted manslaughter for allegedly stabbing the partner of a former ex-wife.  Even though later acquitted, Williamson said about the incident, “I lost my home, which I sold to pay my lawyers, my car and basically lost my career.” That turned out to not be the case, however, as he’s continued to work steadily in a career that’s well into its fourth decade.

Mr. Williamson, for your reliably solid work in roles that don’t always get the press, we salute you.

Mykelti Williamson Factoids

Willamson was married to Miami Vice’s Olivia Brown for two years in the mid-’80s and was in the pilot episode of that show.  He later worked with Michael Mann again on Heat and Ali.

Mykelti Williamson Homework: