Friday, February 18, 2011

You Can't Shake Ted Williams

Let's check in with Ted "The Golden Voice" Williams. 

Do you think it's easy to go from being a homeless alcoholic to a YouTube sensation to Dr. Phil's latest pet project in the space of a few days?  You were thinking that, weren't you?  Well, cut it out. 

Ted Williams found out how hard it is to be an overnight sensation.  He might have known this if he had watched the 1996 Tom Hanks movie That Thing You Do! with its graphic depiction of what happens when hard-working American boys don matching turtlenecks and are catapulted into the suffocating embrace of fame.  That's right, they end up on a fictionalized version of the Ed Sullivan Show, and one of them marries Liv Tyler. 

I wish someone had taken Ted Williams aside and shown him this stark cautionary tale before he decided to leave the safety of his roadside tent back in January.  Maybe he would have avoided the pitfalls of sudden celebrity, such as being fed, clothed, and offered money-making opportunities.  Maybe he would have been spared the embarrassing public relapse that led him to first enter, then abruptly leave, the rehab facility Dr. Phil badgered him to try on national television.

I doubt it.  But you should never underestimate the power of Tom Hanks.

Anyway, Ted Williams wisely shut his Golden Voice the hell up after a couple of weeks in the limelight.  More importantly, he started to think for himself.  One of his first thoughts, apparently, was that it didn't make much sense for him to be holed up in a treatment facility in Texas, where he had no roots, where he had no support network, and where he was asked to skip classes and group sessions so he could provide regular updates to the media.  I'm not saying this was a profound or complex thought, but it certainly was one that his newfound "advocates" seemed to be in no hurry to suggest to him.

So Ted Williams went to L.A. - a practical place to be if you want to resume a once-thriving career in voiceover work - and entered a sober living home.  This has given him three things that he hasn't had at the same time in quite a while, neither as a homeless person nor as a media sensation:  a roof over his head, a measure of autonomy, and the means to be held accountable for his progress.  Funny how he had more autonomy living next to a highway than when the media pimps got ahold of him.

And now the the Man with the Grey Goose Golden Voice is cautiously venturing out again.  I don't know where he is with the sobriety thing these days, but I think it's a good sign that this week Ted Williams had a milkshake named after him.  As opposed to, say, a variety of Jell-O shot or some kind of beer bong.

Appearing at a West Hollywood establishment (shakeria? shake shack?) called Millions of Milkshakes, he unveiled his eponymous frozen concoction, made with bananas, strawberries, Oreo cookies, and non-dairy vanilla ice cream.  Initial proceeds will benefit A Second Chance Foundation, the charity he's established to help crack-addicted Presidential lookalikes with sonorous voices (still fact-checking the exact details of the foundation, but it's probably quite worthy of milkshake proceeds).

Good for Ted Williams.  I hope he makes the most of this second second chance (which would make this either his third or fourth chance, depending on how you do the math).  I won't be sampling his milkshake, because I think putting bananas in ice cream is foulness incarnate, but I support him nonetheless.  And I'm glad to publicize this story, because it gives me the chance to display this awesome picture of Ted Williams holding an enormous banana while wearing rubber gloves.

Source:  The Daily Mail (UK)
 God Bless America!

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