Unfortunately, not everybody grew up in a happy and loving household. Similar to his Happy Days character, Anson Williams endured this.
Anson Williams portrayed Potsie Weber on the hit 70s sitcom Happy Days. Although fans saw his character as “not very bright, somewhat gullible, socially clumsy, kind. and compassionate,” the show’s storyline also tries to make light of Potsie’s toxic relationship with his father.
Similarly, Anson Williams struggled to have a healthy relationship with his father, Haskell Heimlich.
In a 2014 article by OnMilwaukee, he opens up on his “broken” childhood, revealing his father’s constant disappointment.
“Every day of my life, my dad said something like, “If it weren’t for you, I’d have my art gallery, and I wouldn’t have to feed your stupid face.” My dad made sure his failure was my failure, and I didn’t let him down: I was irresponsible, insecure, klutzy. I was shocked after my first day of work when Willie said I did a good job and that he liked me.”
The Person Who Believe in Anson Williams
Willie refers to Willie Turner, a friend and boss of Anson Williams he credits with his success. He served as a father figure when his own lacked.
“Willie was an African American man in his 50s. He was an alcoholic, illiterate janitor. When I was 15, I was an unfocused, unconfident kid. I knew everything I did wrong and nothing I did right. I was broken. My family did not have any money, and when I started to want things, I got a job as an assistant janitor at a Leonard’s Department Store in Burbank, Calif. Willie was my boss. If he hadn’t helped me, I would not be here talking to you today.”
Anson Williams continued, explaining how Willie Turner changed his life by constantly encouraging him to strive to be better.
“He said things to me like, ‘You special, boy. You’re gonna do something great in life.’ He told me, ‘You don’t look at the mountain. You climb the mountain.’ This changed my life. He gave me so many life lessons, and they were amazingly important and timely for me. I never forgot them or him.”
Additionally, Anson Williams highlighted a moment where he started to believe in himself, just as Willie had.
“Willie and I were assigned the job of unpacking refrigerators in the appliance section of the department store. Back then, freezers that didn’t over-freeze were a big deal. While we were unpacking, I said, ‘Freeze your food, not your freezer!’ Willie said, ‘That’s good. You have a gift for words.’ And he must have told someone because two days later, there was a banner in the department with ‘Freeze your food, not your freezer,’ and we sold out of refrigerators. Do you know what that meant to a 15-year-old who didn’t think he was good at anything? I realized I had good instincts, and I would have opportunities.”
Williams went on to try and be a better father than what he had growing up. He married twice, first with Lorrie Mahaffey in 1978 until 1986 and then Jackie Gerken. Last year the 71-year-old actor filed for divorce, however.
Anson Williams and Gerken have five children together.