Millions of Americans know Montel Williams, the television talk show host. His "Montel Williams Show," is one of the most popular on the air. He's even an Emmy winner for the most outstanding talk show host.
How many Americans, however have known Montel Williams, the actor, producer, author, motivational speaker to millions of youth, counselor, award-winning marine and intelligence officer?
Maybe his life experiences have affected the type of talk show he has. While some talk shows have topics dwelling on sex and the extreme, Montel's shows have had topics such as families torn apart by drugs and racism and the attempt to reunite those families, uniting family members who have never met each other and uniting families torn apart by unfaithfulness.
Some talk show hosts have asked leading questions in an attempt to get people to argue on the air. Montel, on the other hand, offers couseling sessions, drug rehabilitation programs and weight loss programs to former guests who want the help.
Montel Williams, in his eighth season, had a wide range of experiences before becoming a talk show host. He joined the United States Marines in 1974. While in the marines he studied Mandarin Chinese and received a degree in general engineering, with a minor in International Security Affairs.
He served as a special duty intelligence offer, specializing in cryptology. While stationed in Guam, Williams received a degree in Russian.
Williams served on board the USS Sampson during the United States invasion of Grenada, along with his other service.
Some of the medals he received include:
an Armed Forces Expeditionary Medal; a Naval Expeditionary Medal; a Navy Commendation Medal; and two Meritiorious Service Awards (few people win more than one.)
Maybe his military service affected his later television career, because in 1988, he began to counsel the wives and families of servicemen under his command. Williams was then asked to speak to Kansas City youths about leadership and overcoming obstacles.
After that for three years he travelled the country and spoke to teenagers, parents, teachers and business leaders. He resigned his naval commission during the time he spoke to 3 million teenagers.
Montel believes each person should take responsibility for his own actions, and there is no limit to what a person can accomplish, even if a person has been a victim of circumstances when younger. Williams is the author of the book," Mountain Get Out Of My Way," which teaches self respect, restraint and responsibility.
"If you have faith you can move mountains, Williams said on his website. "If you have faith in something bigger than yourself--in God, community, family, whatever, then anything is possible. Faith alone will give you the strength to clear any obstacles in your way.
"I don't believe that things happen by mistake. If you ask me, things happen because you make them happen."
Montel, also a father himself, believes if parents taught children "simple restraint, we could solve half the problems young people face today."
Montel has received other besides for his marine service. In 1988, the U.S. Chamber of Commerce gave him its Special Services Award. Past winners have included Ronald and Nancy Reagan and George and Barbara Bush. He has also won awards for helping to improve the mental health of children through advocacy and education.
As an actor, Williams acted in the television action adventure, "The Peace Keeper." As a prouducer, he developed and starred in the one hour drama, "Matt Waters." He also played a marine in "JAG" and was in "Touched By An Angel."
Naval Engineer and host of the 'Montel Williams Show'