Nollywood has been hit by the death of legendary actor Chief Lari Williams.
It was gathered that he died at his home in Ikom, Cross River State, on Sunday, February 27, 2022, after battling with an undisclosed illness.
Lari was 81 years of age.
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Here are seven things you didn’t know about Lari Wiliams:
1. Williams was educated at CMS Grammar School, Lagos. He also studied journalism at the London School of Journalism and then went on to study English at Morley College.
2. Along the line, he fell in love with acting and proceeded to study the Mountview Theatre School and Stratford E15 Acting School.
3. Williams is a recognized and well-respected actor, featuring both in live theatre and on screen. Before his death, he starred in a number of popular shows. He stared in Nigeria’s first soap opera, Village Headmaster; the first home video ever made in Nigeria, titled The Witch Doctor; Ripples, and Mirror in the Sun. He was the first to bring on stage Egun Lapampa, a dreaded Lagos Island masquerade, as part of his play, Awero.
4. Aside from being an actor, he was recognized a poet and playwright. The actor was also the first to perform on top of Zuma Rock in Abuja FCT, 1,200 feet above sea level, where he delivered his late friend Maman Vatsa’s poem ‘The bird that sings in the rain’.
5. In 2008, he bagged the prestigious Member of the Order of the Federal Republic (MFR); a national honour.
6. Lari is the pioneer president of the Actors Guild of Nigeria (AGN)
7. He was the first stage and screen actor to hold the traditional title of a Chief in the Nigerian entertainment industry. He was fondly called Omenka I of Akumasi Kingdom.
9. Williams was also a columnist with Vanguard newspaper, where he writes a weekly column known as Stage and Screen.
10. His teaching experience spans three Nigerian universities – the University of Lagos, the University of Calabar, and Lagos State University.
11. Lari was the ABA bantam-weight champion at Olowogbowo Boy’s Club, Lagos as a teenager ( being trained by Nigeria’s first world boxing champion, Hogan Bassey) and the table tennis champion of the University of Iowa, U.S. in 1980-81.
12. In 1981-82, Lari Williams formed a group called The African Spirits, based in Detroit, Michigan, U.S.
13. In November 1971, 46 years ago, Williams produced his first full-length play, Kolanut Junction, at the largest auditorium in London, the Commonwealth Hall with a galaxy of other Nigerian stars based at that time in England, like Olu Jacobs, Taiwo Ajayi-Lycett, Benita Enwowu – the first Joy advert girl, Rosemary Dacosta, late Femi Fatoba, and sculptor, Taiwo Jegede, still based in London.
14. Lar Williams was also a businessman and he ran a repertory theatre company, the Lari Williams Playhouse.
15. Back in 2015, however, Williams told the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) in Lagos he had only been conferred a Member of the Federal Republic (MFR) honor by the government without any financial backing. Speaking with the News Agency of Nigeria, Lari disclosed that his landlord forced him out of his three-bedroom apartment, telling him that he needed the house for something else. He also lamented being homeless and going blind.