James Caan and Billy Dee Williams in Brian’s Song (IMDB)
Billy Dee Williams pays tribute to his friend and Brian’s Song co-star James Caan, who died July 6.
Williams posted to Twitter a picture of himself and Caan in the gym. The tweet had the caption, “Team Mates and friends till the end. RIP Jimmy.” He added a broken heart emoji at the end.
Brian’s Song is a 1971 biopic that aired as the ABC Movie of the Week. Caan starred as Brian Piccolo, a Chicago Bears NFL player who was diagnosed with terminal cancer after going pro in 1965. The film also recounts his friendship with fellow Bears players Gale Sayers (Williams), despite racial barriers and conflicting personalities. The two became the League’s first interracial roommates. Piccolo died in 1970.
The film’s success on television led to it being shown in theaters via Columbia Pictures. While the film was quickly taken out of the theaters due to lack of sales, the film is still hailed as one of the best TV movies ever made.
Caan’s death was announced by his family on Twitter July 7. They sent thanks to fans who had sent tributes, writing, “The family appreciates the outpouring of love and heartfelt condolences and asks that you continue to respect their privacy during this difficult time.” The cause of death has yet to be released.
It is with great sadness that we inform you of the passing of Jimmy on the evening of July 6.— James Caan (@James_Caan) July 7, 2022
The family appreciates the outpouring of love and heartfelt condolences and asks that you continue to respect their privacy during this difficult time.
End of tweet
Caan’s manager, Matt DelPiano, also released a statement, as reported by NBC News.
“Jimmy was one of the greatest,” he said. “Not only was he one of the best actors our business has ever seen, he was funny, loyal, caring and beloved.”
“Our relationship was always friendship before business,” he continued. “I will miss him dearly and am proud to have worked with him all these years. My thoughts and prayers are with his entire family during this difficult time.”