Paul Williams is Still Alive

Last night on Netflix I came upon a movie called Paul Williams: Still Alive and, more intrigued, I must say, by the typeface on the poster than by any strong memory of Paul Williams, I started to watch.

And then, all of a sudden, my childhood started to flood back.

Paul Williams, it turns out, was a part of almost every piece of pop culture during my childhood through the 1970s and 1980s, a pop culture that is perhaps best encapsulated in this 1978 episode of Hollywood Squares, one that featured Harvey Korman, Rose Marie, Loretta Lynn, Melissa Gilbert, George Gobel, Karen Lynn Gorney, John Amos, and Paul Lynde. And Paul Williams.

Through that collection of stars you get everything: the Dick Van Dyke Show, Good Times, Little House on the Prairie, Carol Burnett. Throw in a couple of Love Boat episodes and you’ve touched on all the TV we watched as kids.

Oh, and by the way, Paul Williams wrote the lyrics to the Love Boat theme.

And, of course, much of the American songbook over those decades, including Rainbow Connection, and Rainy Days and Mondays.

And, more recently, Touch, from the Daft Punk album Random Access Memories.

You see Paul Williams, as the film’s title suggests, is very much alive.

And in making a movie about him, Kessler has also made a movie about my childhood. And my adulthood. And about friendship and taking risks and rising again.

It’s a wonderful watch, and I highly recommend that you seek it out.