Billy Dee Williams Leads 'Dirty Dancing' In his Own Way

Billy Dee Williams has faded from the spotlight in recent years. While the actor, who is most notable for his role as Lando Calrissian in the Star Wars franchise, has continued to work as a Star Wars voice actor and played minor parts in B action movies, Billy Dee has mostly disappeared from public life.

Now, Mr. Williams is seeing a resurgence in his popularity, as the Star Wars actor regains his position as Colt 45 spokesman. Adding to that highly beneficial position, Williams is also going to be leading the Dirty Dancing reboot into a new era, as band leader Tito. Could this be a new beginning for the one-time heartthrob?

Billy Dee Williams To Lead A New Dirty Dancing Band


For those new to Dirty Dancing, the plot of both the original Patrick Swayze/Jennifer Grey film and the new reboot, starring Colt Prattes and Abigail Breslin, are basically the same. While on vacation at a summer resort with her family, Baby Houseman (Grey/Breslin) gets involved with the resort staff, when she falls for her dance instructor (Swayze/Prattes) and becomes embroiled in getting help for pregnant Penny (Cynthia Rhodes/Nicole Scherzinger).

The plot is often propelled by the resort's talent show, which gives Baby a reason to meet with Johnny in the first place. Equally vital to Dirty Dancing's plot is the resort band and the leader of that orchestra played in 1987's Dirty Dancing by Charles "Honi" Coles.

Now, Billy Dee Williams will be taking up the band leader's mantle. As Dirty Dancing's new Tito, Williams will play the character in a lively, animated way, exuding charisma and charm. Williams' Dirty Dancing character has been with the resort for years and has had to change with the times in order to remain a compelling entertainer, but one thing about him that hasn't changed is his love for everyone at the resort. When he's not leading the band, Tito will happily play counselor to resort staff and patrons.

Billy Dee Williams Talks About Returning As Spokesman For Colt 45


Williams first served as the spokesman for Colt 45 malt liquor from 1986 to 1991, making the company's tagline "It works every time" his own. Now, Billy Dee is returning as the suave connoisseur of Colt 45, a media icon who might be considered the precursor to Dos Equis' The Most Interesting Man in the World. Colt 45 is celebrating with a campaign that will have Billy Dee Williams' image promoting their brand in online, television, and print ads.

The Colt 45 tagline has often been criticized for the insinuation that Williams is suggesting using the malt's high alcohol content to intoxicate women quickly.

"You are always going to have people criticizing, in one way or another, for their own personal reason," responds Billy Dee. "But I never felt that Colt 45 or any other beer for that matter was anything that was detrimental to anyone's wellbeing."

Early in his career, Williams played the sex symbol in such films as Brian's Song (1971) and Lady Sings the Blues (1972) and it seems Billy Dee is now trying to recapture, or possibly update, that image in new Colt 45 ads. In his first ad for Colt 45, Billy Dee Williams is dressed in the garb of a wealthy playboy, as he relaxes in a darkened bar and enjoys a Colt 45.

"The world moves fast, but change isn't always a good thing when you got it right the first time around," Mr. Williams says, as he narrates the ad.


After a moment, Billy Dee Williams adds an updated version of the original Colt 45 tagline.

"Because sometimes a true original doesn't need to change a thing. It works every time."

[Image by Rachel Murray/Getty Images]