Heroes of Cult

Heroes of Cult: Fred Williamson

Frederick Robert Williamson Sr., nicknamed “The Hammer” was born on March 5th 1938 in Gary, Indiana, USA.  He initially gained fame playing defense in the American Football League for the Oakland Raiders and Kansas City Chiefs during the 1960’s. He has black belts in Kenpō, Shotokan Karate and taekwondo. 

Whilst playing for the Kansas City Chiefs Williamson began to transcend football into pop culture. He soon became known as “The Hammer” because he used his forearm to deliver karate-style blows to the heads of opposing players, especially wide receivers.

Before Super Bowl I, Williamson gathered national headlines by boasting that he would knock the Green Bay Packers starting receivers, Carroll Dale and Boyd Dowler, out of the game. He stated “Two hammers to (Boyd) Dowler, one to (Carroll) Dale should be enough”.

Following football Williamson turned to acting. He made his debut in 1968 in an episode of Ironside. Roles followed in Star Trek, The Outsider, The Bold Ones: The Protectors, M*A*S*H, Julia, The Legend of Nigger Charley and Hammer.

Williamson often teamed up in films ad TV with Jim Brown. The pair appeared together in Three the Hard Way, Take a Hard Ride, One Down, Two to GoOriginal Gangstas,  On the Edge as well as countless TV shows. In October 1973, Williamson posed nude for Playgirl magazine, preempting Brown’s appearance in 1974.

In 1973 Williamson starred in the film Black Caesar and its sequel, Hell Up in Harlem. A number of big films followed including many in the “blaxploitation” genre such as The Soul of Nigger Charley, That Man Bolt, Crazy Joe, Tough Guys, Black Eye and Boss Niger.

Other roles included Black Eye, The Rookies, Bucktown, The New Spartans, Mean Johnny Barrows, Adiós Amigo, No Way Back, Death Journey, Blind Rage, Police Story, Joshua, Mr Mean, The Inglorious Bastards, Wheels, Supertrain, CHiPS, Fantasy Island, Lou Grant, 1990: The Bronx Warriors, One Down Two to go, Warrior of the Lost World, Vigilante, Warriors of the Wasteland, The Last Fight, The Last Fight, I guerrieri dell’anno 2072, Deadly Impact, White Fire, Half Nelson, and The Equaliser.

In 1987, Williams was cast as Lt. Robert ‘Bob’ Malone in Cobra Nero aka Black Cobra. He would continue in that role for all of its sequels. As of writing another installment is in development: The Black Cobra Returns! Williams would also find success with his Delta Force Commando series of films.

Williamson turned down a role in 1988’s  I’m Gonna Git You Sucka because he didn’t want to parody the “cool hero” image he had developed in films during the 1970’s.

In 1994, Williamson, along with many other black actors from the ‘Blaxploitation’ movie era (including Antonio Fargas, Pam Grier, Rudy Ray Moore, and Ron O’Neal) made a cameo appearance on Snoop Doggy Dogg’s music video “Doggy Dogg World”, where he appears as himself using his pro-football nickname “The Hammer”.

In 1996 Williamson co-starred with George Clooney and Quentin Tarantino in Robert Rodriguez’s  From Dusk till Dawn, as well as Renegade, South Beach, Deceptions, Night Vision, Fast Track, Black Jack, Children of the Corn V: Fields of Terror, Down ‘n Dirty, Shadow Fury, Starsky & Hutch, Vegas Vampires, Hello Paradise, Knight Rider, Pushing Daisies, Zombie Apocalypse: Redemption, Dropping Evil, and The Voices from Beyond.

Since 2014, Williamson has been a prominent spokesman for the Wounded Warrior Project.

‘There’s only two things that I demand of my scripts, and they’re the same things my audiences demand. First, I have to get the girl. And second, I have to win all the fights. We don’t need suspense. With those two ingredients, the picture is assured of being a hit.’


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