Anson Williams, also known as Potsie in “Happy Days,” went through many troubles after achieving fame

    Anson Williams is a famous actor from the hit series “Happy Days” who played Potsie. Decades later, he’s still asked about his time on the show. However, since the show’s end, Williams has built several businesses and survived colon cancer. He turned his new lease on life into a chance to live a purposeful life and even tried running for major.

    Anson Williams broke into fame as Potsie on the iconic series “Happy Days.” His character was so big that it earned him a Golden Globe nomination.

    The role of Potsie took time to fill, as hundreds of people auditioned for it. But it fell into Williams’s lap. His agent threw the part at him last minute, and William showed up late to the audition.

    Anson Williams on "Happy Days" in 1979. | Source: Getty Images

    But the first pilot of the show did not sell. However, the actor was invited to shoot the second pilot and went on to do a screen test with a lot more other people, but he had to wait a month before he knew he got the role.

    “Happy Days” was not his first on-screen job; Williams made his first paycheque in a McDonald’s commercial, which also turned out to be so iconic that it was brought back on TV years later.

    The actor was proud that he worked with such a famous brand and got the feel of making his own money. But his time on “Happy Days” was most memorable.

    Williams credited the creator of the show, Garry Marshall, for carefully selecting a group of people that would end up having the closest relationship even four decades after the show ended.

    The actor also reiterated that Marshall did not only lead them when it came to their performances, but he treated their time on the show as a learning experience and taught the whole “Happy Days” crew about the ins and out of the entertainment industry.

    Most “Happy Days” members have sustained successful careers on and off-screen. For Williams, his time on the show gave him the best friendships and an on-screen girlfriend that would later become his wife.

    Anson Williams and Lorrie Mahaffey in Californian in 1983. | Source: Getty Images

    Williams met his first wife, Lorrie Mahaffey, on the Grand Ole Opry, but art imitated life when Mahaffey was a guest star on “Happy Days” and played Williams’ girlfriend. They married in 1978 but ended their union in 1986. They also have a daughter, Hannah, together.

    Despite all the fame he gained from “Happy Days,” Williams could not get used to the glamour of Hollywood. He said he would still choose a hamburger over a filet Mignon.

    But the actor was most appreciative of the opportunity to be introduced to a group of successful and talented actors that became family.

    While acting positively impacted William’s life, he explained that he never feared becoming typecast because he knew he would not be in the industry forever. The actor had his entrepreneurial passions to explore.

    Beating Cancer and Saving Lives
    Since the end of “Happy Days,” Williams has ventured into creating a business behind the scenes. He directed the show “The Secret Life of the American Teenager” for five years.

    The actor owns two product companies and has his hands full as a father of five. “I have no time. My life’s not my own.” reiterated Williams.

    Anson Williams in California in 2021. | Source: Getty Images

    Even though Wiliams has been part of significant roles as an actor and director, he said his children had not shown any interest in show business; in fact, he revealed that they had not watched an entire episode of “Happy Days.”

    However, Williams also clarified that he does not push the idea of acting on them; he enjoys being “daddy” when he’s around them and not a famous actor.

    He also admitted that acting was a tough job, so he believed that writing might be a better career option for his children to explore; still, he said, “it’s their time, not mine, my time”; thus, they are free to do whatever they want.

    In 2011 Williams decided to leave Los Angeles for a quiet life in Ojai, California. The father of five wanted to allow his children to live out of the spotlight and make mistakes without pressure.

    Additionally, the “Happy Days” star explained that he had spent a few weekends in Ojai and visited their hiking trails, and each time he felt that the place brought out the best sides of him, not to mention its small and loving community.

    Luckily he could buy a house in Ojai and start a life there. Williams revealed that he moved there after overcoming a few personal obstacles, but the biggest one was his colon cancer diagnosis.

    Anson Williams on "Battle of The Network Stars" in 2017. | Source: Getty Images

    Williams survived cancer, but after he underwent two surgeries, he had a few complications in the hospital which led him to be admitted for a month instead of three days.

    The struggle he endured with his health and other parts of his personal life left him in a depressive state, so the move to Ojai was the motivation he needed to give life another shot.

    The new lease on life turned into an opportunity to turn his life-altering experience into something positive; therefore, Williams made it his mission to live a purposeful life.

    Willaims also created a product to help save people’s lives. It was inspired by a time when he almost lost his life while driving drowsy after a long day of shooting on location.

    Williams’ said he told his uncle, Dr. Henry Heimlich, about the incident, and he told him to bite a lemon every time he felt tired before driving. Williams’ uncle explained the theory behind how citrus created a reflex reaction in the brain that keeps one awake.

    This is where the idea of his product Alert Drops came about. Instead of carrying lemons, Williams and Hemlich created a travel-sized spray packed with enough citrus to keep the brain alert and save many lives.

    Playing an impactful role in raising awareness of Drowsy Driving was one of the few ways that Williams wanted to improve his life. His goal was to invest in what would benefit him and the world.

    Even when he was in the hospital, Williams recalled, walking through the corridors and making other patients laugh. ​​​​”I did what I was trained to: bring good humor, take the stress out of people’s lives, and make them smile,” he said.

    Above all else, surviving cancer also made him appreciate his family more. As much as he always knew he loved them, having the chance to spend more time with them meant everything.

    Williams posted a candid picture of himself topless. The 77-year-old actor showed off his well-shaped physic that he achieved six months after his colon cancer surgery.

    The actor was not sharing his body to brag about it but to motivate his friends and followers, who also thought they would not make it through their tough times.

    Williams reiterated that the mind was essential to help people move forward. Therefore, he overcame every challenge once he conquered the mind and realized the importance of living intentionally.

    Anson Williams, Jackie Gerken and their daughter Hannah in California in 1993. | Source: Getty Images

    After separating from Mahaffey, William married his wife of over 30 years, Jackie Gerken, in 1988, and together, they have four children.

    His eldest daughter, Hannah, is married with two children, and her father bosted about how she works at Buzzfeed. Williams also mentioned that three of his children were black belts.

    Anson Williams and Jackie Gerken End Their Marriage of over Three Decades
    Williams and his wife Gerken called it quits for the second time in 2020. He had filed for divorce less than a year before ending his marriage for the second time.

    The first time, the couple decided to dismiss the divorce and try to make it work for their children’s sake. But nine months later, Williams explained that the initial agreement was to lead their separate lives without involving the law.

    Eventually, it was clear that they had to make their relationship status official with a divorce decree. Williams did not go into much detail regarding their divorce the second time around.

    The couple decided to have joint custody of their under-aged children, Olivia, Gabriel, and Stella. Olivia and Gabrielle will leave the nest and go to college soon, while the youngest stays home.

    Williams also revealed that he and Gerken decided to put an official end to their marriage because “sometimes you have to do what’s best for everyone,” he explained.

    In the spirit of putting his energy where he feels passionate. In 2022 it was announced that Williams was running for Major of Ojai, California. Unfortunately, the actor lost his bid.

    Williams lost to his fellow contender, Major Betsy Stix, by 42 votes. Stix had 1823 votes, while the actor came behind with 1781.

    However, Williams took the defeat well. He thanked the Ojaians for supporting him and believing in his mission for the community.

    He did not take the loss as a permanent defeat, but for Williams, it was only the beginning of an exciting journey. He said much work needed to be done because politicians had damaged their community.

    Therefore, Williams is determined to use his platform and supporters to expose the harm brought by other leaders to their Ojai community.

    Besides trying different career endeavors, he was reported to have found love again. Williams created a home in Ojai and met his partner Sharon MaHarry, who he had allegedly been seeing for three years.

    MaHarry led a quiet life, but she worked as an advertising marketing executive for many years, published a memoir, and wrote short stories. Now she works as a real estate broker. Maharry is also a mother who raised her daughter Lindsy in Ojai.

    Ojai has only brought joy to Williams’s life, and now he enjoys being a grandfather to his two grandchildren. His daughter Hannah shared a unique family photo from her wedding, revealing that she showed up late to the alter and was sewing her dress to her bra on the way.

    Hannah also posted a picture of Williams and her son Jackson at the Exotic Car festival. She also shared another adorable family picture of her, Williams, and her son Wyatt.

    Besides being a hands-on father and grandfather and sharing meal plans for a healthy lifestyle on his Twitter, Williams travels the world. The actor shared a picture of himself in Rome, Italy, and expressed how much he could not wait to go back again.

    Even though Williams has filed for divorce and reportedly found a partner, he still has his Facebook status as separated and keeps his romantic affairs private.

    Williams still gets recognized for his role on “Happy Days.” Still, he has built a successful career outside of Hollywood while contributing to saving multiple innocent lives with his innovative products.

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