10 Days In The Breakneck Rise & Fall Of "Golden Voice" Ted Williams


Ted Williams went through the clichéd celebrity life cycle—rocketing to stardom, getting arrested, entering rehab—at warp speed. Yesterday, his appearance on Dr. Phil, with the children he abandoned, illuminated how fame and fortune can’t fix a broken man.

After a local reporter in Columbus, Ohio recorded a video of Ted Williams’ vocal talent that went viral last week—with over 11 million hits, collectively—the onetime homeless panhandler was thrust into the spotlight, and in a period of just 10 days, has experienced the general public’s seemingly rabid need to build people up, only to tear them down.

A week ago, Williams was a media darling, making appearances on morning and late-night talk shows, getting voice-over work, and experiencing a feel-good reunion with his family members (as well as a makeover) on Entertainment Tonight. However, as details of his checkered past have emerged—a long history of crime, drug use, and being a deadbeat dad—his public image became tarnished.

Day 1, January 4
A videographer for the Columbus, Ohio Dispatch, Doral Chenoweth III, posts a clip of Williams after reading the cardboard sign he’s holding, claiming he has a golden voice. The video goes viral, after being reposted on YouTube, the success of which is covered on morning TV shows and the evening news.

Day 2, January 5
Williams is interviewed on CBS’ The Early Show, and makes his first—of several—appearances on The Insider and Entertainment Tonight, where he says that he’s been contacted by Jack Nicholson, who wants to portray him in a film. Additionally, the Cleveland Cavaliers offer him a home and a job doing full-time voice-over work. However, on the same day, his collage of mugshots are released on The Smoking Gun, along with details for his prior arrests for theft, robbery, escape, forgery, and drug possession.

Day 3, January 6
Williams is interviewed on Today, and reunited on television with his 92-year-old mother. Later that evening he appears on The Last Word with Lawrence O’Donnell and <Late Night with Jimmy Fallon. It is also revealed—through an interview with his ex-wife in the NY Daily News—that Williams is a deadbeat dad, having abandoned his five children.

Day 4, January 7
Williams is officially hired by MSNBC for voice-over work for the network, as well as Kraft Foods, who have hired him for a new TV campaign.

Day 7, January 10
Williams is detained by police for an altercation with his daughter Janey Williams.

Day 8, January 11
Williams makes his first appearance on Dr. Phil, claiming he’s been sober for two and half years, then later backtracking, saying it’s “been more like a year.” When asked about an incident at a tire store in Ohio in July, in which he was accused of belligerent behavior, public urination, and stealing from customers’ cars—which Dr. Phil felt weren’t the actions of a sober man—Williams repeatedly denied the story, until he was confronted with the police report. Later on, he appears on Entertainment Tonight, discussing the previous night’s incident with his daughter.

Day 9, January 12
Williams appears on Dr. Phil again, this time with his ex-wife and five children. Poised as an intervention to get Williams into rehab, the family expresses their concern over how his meteoric rise to fame and fortune could negatively affect his life and disease of addiction.

In this clip, Janey tells her father how much it hurt when he left them, saying how much she wanted him present in her life when she was a child, to help her with her homework, drive her to after-school activites, and to tell him how her day was. The sentiment seems lost on Williams, as his response to her emotional outpouring was, “I’m gonna take you and get you a Louis Vuitton purse.”
Later that evening on Entertainment Tonight, Williams receives a dental makeover consultation.

Day 10, January 13
It is announced that Williams will enter rehab, a decision he came to on an episode of Dr. Phil set to air today.

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