Billy Dee Williams Posts Heartwarming Photo with Late James Caan: ‘Friends Till the End’

by Craig Garrett

Billy Dee Williams took to his Twitter to pay tribute to his late friend and Brian’s Song co-star, James Caan.

“Team Mates and friends till the end. RIP Jimmy,” Billy wrote, along with the hashtag “#jamescaan.” The recent image is of the two actors in the gym. James Caan jokingly sits on Billy’s lap, his arm around his friend. The two share matching grins.

Billy Dee Williams and James Caan have a longstanding friendship that spans decades. The pair originally worked on the 1971’s Brian’s Song. The film was actually a 1971 ABC Movie of the Week. It focused on the heartwrenching story of Brian Picollo, played by Caan. Picollo was a Chicago Bears football player who was diagnosed with terminal cancer after going pro in 1965. The film is seen from the perspective of his close friend and fellow player Gale Sayers, who was played by Billy Dee Williams. Columbia Pictures actually released the film in theaters owing to enthusiastic praise and viewership.

James Caan goes from supporting roles to leading tough guy

Before Brian’s song, James Caan starred in the 1966 western El Dorado. The film also starred icons Robert Mitchum and John Wayne. Caan had a candid photo of the trio proudly displayed as the banner of his Twitter page. Caan was launched to superstardom with his role as Sonny Corleone in the Godfather. The same year, he won a Golden Globe award for Best Supporting Actor and was nominated for an Oscar in the same category. He briefly reprised the role in The Godfather II (1974) as well.

After his Godfather turn, James Cann became a sought-after leading man. He starred in the gritty neo-noir film Thief and the crime drama The Gambler. Mark Walhberg would later go on to star in a remake of the Gambler in 2014. Caan also tried sci-fi with Rollerball, in which he played a futuristic sports hero.

In 1990, James Caan starred in Misery. The film is an adaptation of the Stephen King novel of the same name. Perhaps against type, Caan played a famous author held captive by an obsessed fan. Kathy Bates won an Academy Award for her role opposite Cann in the film.

On July 7, James Caan’s family issued a statement through his official Twitter account confirming his death. “It is with great sadness that we inform you of the passing of Jimmy on the evening of July 6,” the tweet read. “The family appreciates the outpouring of love and heartfelt condolences and asks that you continue to respect their privacy during this difficult time,” the statement concluded.