He was an architect to the stars. Actors like Desi Arnaz and Lucille Ball, Frank Sinatra, and Bill (Bojangles) Robinson owned his homes. His influence is still felt throughout Los Angeles in buildings and interior spaces he designed, such as the iconic “theme” restaurant at LAX, the original MCA headquarters in Beverly Hills, and the Polo Lounge at the Beverly Hills Hotel, to name a few.
But building his business in the 1920s-1950s, during a time of fierce segregation in Los Angeles, was not easy. Williams could not even live in the neighborhoods where most of his homes were situated. So how did he overcome racism to launch a successful business? Bonnie Boswell talks with Architect Roland A. Wiley and Granddaughter Karen Hudson Freeman about the man, his craft, and his legacy.