William B. Williams

born: 28 December 1915
Itasca, Texas,
United States of America
died: 12 October 1972
Chicago, Illinois,
United States of America
(heart attack/diabetes, age 56)

American performer. He was a member of The Charioteers.
He was also known by "Wilfred" and most often "Billy".
All of his sources give his birth "day" as 28 December but the year of birth varies as 1910, 1911, 1915, and 1916. His official delayed Texas birth record is 1915.
At a very young age his "preacher" Dad, Andrew Walter Williams and Mom Bernice Louella (Bennie Lou) Phillips, moved to Ohio. Billy attended Wilberforce University outside of Cleveland. With 3 friends he formed "The Charioteers" quartet and they made extra money performing at clubs and the "big" WLW radio station in Cincinnati, Ohio. He spent time in the US Army during WWII and received a medical discharge in 1944. Around 1950 he broke from "The Charioteers" and formed his own quartet. He appeared regularly on TV.
In the 1960's he was having marital problems (divorce) along with health problems (heart & diabetes) and moved to Chicago where he worked for WGN TV. He was destitute when he died in 1972.

There are sources that have a guy with the same name listed (b. 09 May 1901 Tuskahoma, Oklahoma; d. 23 September 1942 Los Angeles, California), which is wrong.
Real name: William Benjamin Williams
Height: 5'9"
Films listed on this page: complete Hal Roach filmography.


Road Show
Tenor, The Charioteers

(click any image to enlarge)

https://www.familysearch.org/ark:/61903/3:1:3QSQ-G9VD-G9ZZ-K?i=381 (1915 Dec 28 TZ Birth Record, Itasca, TX.)
https://www.familysearch.org/ark:/61903/1:1:4L45-C6T2 (1915 Dec 28 Christening Itasca, TX.)
https://www.familysearch.org/ark:/61903/1:1:248R-482 (1937 Jun 28 NYC 1st marriage to Lillian Elizabeth Atkins)
https://www.familysearch.org/ark:/61903/1:1:KQST-XQG (1940 Census NYC: "artist---stage, screen, radio": wife Lillian)
Ancestry.com WWII Draft Cards Young Men 1940 Oct 16 NYC: ht.5;9" 162 lbs.:age 29:b1911 Dec 28 Waco, Tx:"Wilfred Benjamin Williams": wf Lillian
https://www.familysearch.org/ark:/61903/1:1:Q2ZY-BX4B (1946 May 06 LA 2nd marr as "Wilfred Benjamin Williams": to Lois Irene Traverse)
https://www.nytimes.com/1972/10/18/archives/billy-williams-62-blues-singer-dies.html (1972 Oct 12 Chicago death: obit. with minor errors)
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Billy_Williams_(singer) (bio with sources and minor errors)
https://www.newspapers.com/article/st-louis-post-dispatch-billy-williams/16186983/ (Williams & quartet bios with minor errors)
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Charioteers (bio w/ sources)
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=oRU4tJrfpbQ&ab_channel=DOOWOPTRB (1941 The Charioteers sing: identified)
Jim Jarvis (research and bio notes)

This page was last updated on: 10 May 2024