Van Zandt Jarvis Williams, who used the stage name of Van Williams for the entirety of his acting career (February 27, 1934-November 28, 2016), was a former actor best known for his television role as Britt Reid/the Green Hornet. He teamed up for one season with the late Bruce Lee as his sidekick Kato, in the television series The Green Hornet, broadcast on ABC during the 1966-1967 season.
Williams did a Comic Book Central interview in May of 2015.
In 1966, ABC-TV revived George W. Trendle's famous radio character in a new series, The Green Hornet, produced by William Dozier through his Greenway/Greenlawn Productions company. Williams signed with 20th Century-Fox to portray the mysterious masked hero and his alter ego, newspaper editor Britt Reid, grandson of Dan Reid, the nephew of John Reid, aka The Lone Ranger.
Williams played the role straight, unlike the lampoon comedy approach of the same producer's Batman show. He and co-star Bruce Lee also made guest appearances, in character, on the Batman series for two episodes, a two parter in which they fought a villain called Colonel Gumm (Roger C. Carmel) and a "window" cameo in another episode earlier in the same season.
Bruce Lee died of a cerebral edema on July 20, 1973. Williams's acting career faded at that approximate time, though he made a few television guest appearances and starred in one more series, an NBC Saturday morning offering entitled Westwind.
By the time he starred in The Green Hornet, Williams had become successful investing in various commercial ventures; a TV Guide profile of 1966, titled "Banker with a Sting," characterized him as "your friendly neighborhood tycoon." He retired from acting in 1982 to open a Santa Monica, California communications company that leased time on six two-way radio repeater stations.
In 1993, Williams made a cameo in Dragon: The Bruce Lee Story as a director of The Green Hornet.
In 2010, Williams was invited to make a cameo appearance as a cemetery guard in the movie The Green Hornet, but it turned out that he would be unavailable for the required filming dates. Williams had not looked back with much fondness on his acting career, complaining to People Weekly Magazine, "I felt like a monkey in the zoo. There was absolutely no privacy."
On December 5, 2016, producer Kevin Burns revealed that Williams had died of renal failure in Scottsdale, Arizona, on November 28, 2016, at the age of 82.