(written from a Production point of view)
Fred Williamson (born 5 March 1938; age 78) is the former professional football player turned actor who appeared as Anka in "The Cloud Minders", a third season episode of Star Trek: The Original Series (TOS). He was born in Gary, Indiana.
Football career Edit
Williamson played college football for Chicago's Northwestern University during the late 1950s. This was followed by a seven-year professional career in the NFL, beginning in 1960 when he was signed on with the Pittsburgh Steelers. The following year, he joined the Oakland Raiders, with whom he played four seasons. He then played three seasons with the Kansas City Chiefs. It was during this time he became known as "The Hammer", and was a starter in the very first Super Bowl.
Acting, directing, and producing Edit
Early acting career Edit
He moved into acting in the late 1960s; his appearance on Star Trek was one of his earliest endeavors in the field. Another early television appearance was a 1969 episode of the short-lived series The Outsider with fellow TOS guest star Michael Strong.
Williamson made his feature film debut playing Captain Oliver "Spearchucker" Jones in Robert Altman's irreverent 1970 comedy M*A*S*H. This film also marked the film debut of future Trek alum John Schuck and co-starred Rene Auberjonois and Sally Kellerman.
From 1970 through 1971, Williamson made regular appearances on the television sitcom Julia, playing the title character's love interest, Steve Bruce. He was a replacement for Paul Winfield, who played Julia's previous boyfriend, Paul Cameron. Williamson's co-stars on this series included fellow TOS guest actor Don Marshall.
The blaxploitation era Edit
For the remainder of the 1970s, Williamson was a fixture of action films in the "blaxploitation" genre. He also produced, directed and wrote a number of these films. He played the title role of films like The Legend of Nigger Charley (1972) and its 1973 sequel, The Soul of Nigger Charley, Black Caesar (1973), Boss Nigger (1975, which he also produced), and Mean Johnny Barrows (1976, with Anthony Caruso), the latter of which he also directed and produced. In the 1974 blaxploitation film Three the Hard Way, Williams co-starred with Jay Robinson, Corbin Bernsen, and Irene Tsu.
Williamson did continue to appear on television during this time, including two episodes of Police Story (one with Eric Server and the aforementioned Michael Strong and the other with France Nuyen), an episode of The Rookies with Robert Ellenstein, a CHiPs two-parter with Michael Dorn and Robert Pine, and an episode of Ricardo Montalban's series Fantasy Island with Adrienne Barbeau. He also appeared in the 1978 mini-series Wheels, as did John Crawford and Stewart Moss.
The 1980s Edit
Throughout the 1980s, Williamson worked on a number of Italian B-movies, mostly science fiction action films, including The New Barbarians and Bronx Warriors (both 1982) and The New Gladiators (1984). He also continued directing, producing, and starring in the occasional blaxploitation film, such as 1983's The Big Score (co-starring Ed Lauter).
Williamson became a regular on the short-lived TV series Half Nelson, which ran for seven episodes in 1985. In addition, he co-starred with Star Trek: The Motion Picture actress Persis Khambatta in the Italian science fiction film Warrior of the Lost World (1983) and in the 1988 direct-to-video thriller Deadly Intent.
1990s and 2000s Edit
Williamson continued to produce, direct and star in action films throughout the 1990s and 2000s. He had a supporting role in Robert Rodriguez' hit 1996 vampire blood-fest From Dusk Till Dawn (with Marc Lawrence). More recently, he played Captain Doby in the 2004 feature film version of Starsky & Hutch ( with Rachael Harris and also featured an appearance by David Soul). Other recent film credits include the 1996 crime thriller Original Gangstas (with Paul Winfield and Charles Napier), 1999's Whatever It Takes (co-starring Michael Bailey Smith, Bruce Gray, and Jimmie F. Skaggs, 2000's Submerged (with Michael Buchman Silver and Michael Bailey Smith), and 2007's Fighting Words (with Edward Laurence Albert and Tucker Smallwood).