“He came, he saw and he conquered”, these were the words, Manager of Spyderlee Entertainment, Mr. Edwin Kwaku Edinkrah used to describe the late George Williams when he spoke to Entertainment Today in an interview shortly after his(George Williams) death.
Before his demise, the late George Williams was a board member of GN Bank Awards, an initiative of Spyderlee Entertainment.
George Brigars Williams, a broadcaster/journalist turned-actor, was one of the finest, classic and great Ghanaian actors. He was a smooth talker who had absolute flair over the Queen`s language. Uncle George, as he was affectionately called acting dexterity catapulted him to participate in Nollywood movies. He also became a household name in Ghana for his extraordinary performance in the popular 1990s TV drama series, ‘Ultimate Paradise’ where he earned the name Mr. Addison from his role in the series.
Apart from that Uncle George’s roles in movies such as Genesis Chapter X, Dogo Yaro, Bloody Mary, Mama, The Young and the Old, Divine Love, Friday at 4:30, Justice, Dirty Deal, Black Sunday, My Sisters Honour among others shot him into limelight.
Uncle George was born on 8th January 1929 to a famous Gold Coast lawyer, politician and nationalist Francis Awoonor Williams and his wife Nora Rosemond Bannerman. The Awoonor Williams family originally came from Sierra Leone to settle in Gold Coast. The patriarch, George Williams settled at Keta and married into an Anlo family. Thus the children from this nuptial union gained the name Awuna-Williams. It was the Awuna, (corruption of Anlo by the Akans/Europeans) which was further anglicised and changed into Awoonor.
George`s father, Francis Awoonor Williams married a Fante woman (from Elmina) and settled at Sekondi where he practiced his legal trade, before venturing into politics to become a founding member of the United Gold Coast Convention (UGCC).
Young George, a product of bourgeoisie marriage had his early education at Sekondi and proceeded to Aggrey Memorial Secondary School in Cape Coast for part of his secondary education. He left Aggrey Memorial halfway for Achimota College in Accra, but had to quit it for Adisadel College in Cape Coast where he found academic joy and stayed on until he completed his secondary education in 1946.
His class mates at Adisadel include Supreme Court judges: Justice Sarpong, Justice Hayfron-Benjamin and others. At Adisadel, Uncle George domiciled at Hamlyn House, and was a great sportsman of the house, as a high jumper.
He was also involved in the study of classical language and theatre at the time, and he took part in Greek, Latin and other classical plays. It was this training that gave him a solid foundation in his future entertainment industry exploits. George, noted for his frankness admitted that his academic records in secondary school, was not very commendable but persevered to garner many opportunities fate had brought his way.
“The opportunities that I had, I had the opportunity to play with great stars you know… and that engineered my imagination and put me through several things and I’m grateful to have had such opportunities,” the late George was reported to have told Starr FM in an interview before he passed on into glory.
After leaving Adisadel College in 1946, George hooked up a job at Achimota College as a Laboratory Assistant at the Physics Lab for almost two years. After his glorious and enjoyable days at Motown (Achimota), George left Ghana in 1947 for England where his insatiable quest for more academic laurels compelled him to enroll at the Balham & Tooting College of Commerce.
After his education, George in collaboration with some of his colleagues started performing gigs in nightclubs just as they played piano and drums for some of the top-gun dancers and musicians of the time. Taking advantage of his eloquence and articulation, George later found joy in broadcasting industry. George Williams involved himself as a broadcaster, moving from the Ghana Broadcasting Corporation (GBC) to act as the head of presentation for the Sierra Leone Broadcasting Service (SLBS). He also had a stint with the Nigeria Broadcasting Corporation and engaged in some freelance jobs for Liberian Broadcasting Corporation.
George further explored to acquaint himself with all the areas of showbiz. Thus, he went to the Buddy Bradley’s School of Stage Dancing at the west end of London, then touted as one of the famous schools, to learn how to dance but surprisingly, ended up acting rather. He performed in Julian Green’s South at the London’s Arts Theatre, soon after he joined the musical ballet Caribbean Heatwave with Shirley Bassey as the lead singer and Ben Johnson as the lead dancer opening at the Little Theatre in Jersey.
After a series of programmes on the BBC West African Service, he made several recordings with great jazz musicians in England such as Hurry Cline, Mike Makenzie, Shake Kean and Joe Harriot.
George ventured into Ghanaian movies, but his magnus opus came in the popular TV series, Ultimate Paradise. He starred alongside TV sensation Rama Brew, Michelle Attoh, Grace Nortey and a host of talented actors. George never stepped out of character even when he was off the set because he loved the experience of being in a part of such a “great” production.
“When I got onto the set and saw the people surrounding me it was like magic. It had to work because it had beautiful people, wonderful, talented people in… It was a wonderful experience for me and I put my whole soul and my heart in it. And I made it a point that I had Havana cigars just to make “Mr. Addison” look like the whatever [he was in the series]”, he stated in the said interview on Starr FM.
Mr George Williams died at the Korle-Bu Teaching Hospital in Accra on Monday, August 1, 2016.
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