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Treat Williams, ‘Everwood’ and ‘Deep Rising’ star, dead at 71

<i>Cindy Ord/Getty Images for Tribeca Film Festival</i><br/>Treat Williams seen here in 2016 in New York City died after a motorcycle accident in Vermont
Cindy Ord/Getty Images for Tribeca Film Festival
Treat Williams seen here in 2016 in New York City died after a motorcycle accident in Vermont

By Dan Heching, CNN

(CNN) — Treat Williams, a veteran actor who starred in the TV dramas “Blue Bloods” and “Everwood,” died Monday night as the result of a motorcycle accident in Vermont, his longtime agent, Barry McPherson, told CNN.

He was 71.

According to Vermont State Police, the crash occurred around 5:00 pm ET Monday on Vermont Route 30 when a driver of a vehicle attempted to turn left into a parking lot and collided with Williams, who was operating a 1986 Honda VT700c motorcycle. Williams was thrown from his motorcycle and suffered critical injuries. He was airlifted to Albany Medical Center in Albany, New York, where he was pronounced dead, officials said.

Born Richard Treat Williams in Rowayton, Connecticut, he studied theater in college and moved to New York shortly after graduating. There, he nabbed the understudy role to John Travolta in “Grease” and later replaced him as Danny Zuko.

Williams’ versatile screen career included an early role in director Milos Forman’s adaptation of the musical “Hair” in 1979, followed by a starring vehicle with another A-list director, Sidney Lumet, in the gritty undercover crime drama “Prince of the City” two years later.

While Williams appeared destined for major stardom, his next several movies didn’t equal that early promise, though he continued to work steadily, including in a TV movie remake of “A Streetcar Named Desire” and additional TV movies in which he played boxer Jack Dempsey and FBI chief J. Edgar Hoover.

In the ’90s, the actor segued into different kind of roles, playing the villain in the pulp-comic adaptation “The Phantom” and super-agent Michael Ovitz in the HBO movie based on the book “The Late Shift,” about “The Tonight Show” succession battle between Jay Leno and David Letterman. He earned a Primetime Emmy nomination for that role.

Later in that decade, Williams enjoyed leading action star status in 1998’s B-movie “Deep Rising,” about a killer sea monster, starring opposite Famke Janssen, Wes Studi and Djimon Hounsou.

Williams subsequently found new success in television, starring in the CW series “Everwood” for four seasons in the aughts and a more recent stint on “Chicago Fire.” He was also part of the core cast of “Chesapeake Shores,” appearing in 53 episodes between 2016 and 2022. He last year also co-starred in the HBO miniseries “We Own This City,” producer David Simon’s chronicle of corruption and internal politics in the Baltimore police department.

The late actor is survived by his wife Pam Van Sant and their two children.

“I’m just devastated,” McPherson told People of Williams on Monday. “He was the nicest guy. He was so talented.”

“He was an actor’s actor. Filmmakers loved him. He’s been the heart of the Hollywood since the late 1970s,” he added.

In 2020, Williams filmed an “Acting Lessons” video for Netflix, in which he said, “The one thing I would say to younger actors is, be concerned with what you’re doing, not how you’re doing.

“If you’re very focused on what you have to say, or what you’re trying to tell the other person, or what you’re sharing with the audience, you’re going to be a lot more comfortable, and I think, truthful.”

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