Words with the Duke
A Biographical Sketch on the Life & Times of
Ermal Walden Williamson
dba: John Wayne & Gary Cooper
DateLine: March, 2004
e-MEDIA RELEASE FOR ERMAL WALDEN WILLIAMSON
Ermal Walden Williamson, a man of the West, ex-stuntman for Universal Studios in Hollywood, California is also the John Wayne Look-alike and Impersonator doubling for the Duke in the Coors Light commercials. He has been performing on Duke’s yacht, the “Wild Goose”. ever since it has been rescued from almost going to Davy Jones’ Locker and continues to thrill people several times a month on board. He rides in the Tournament of Roses Parade as John Wayne each year, and does a patriotic recitation at the Rose Bowl preceding the parade.
He travels the world, appearing at corporate events throughout the country as host, emcee and/or entertainer.
As an entertainer, he is an after-dinner speaker, a key-note speker, he hosts conventions, performs at trade-shows, and emcees seminars. He carries his own audio/video projector and screen to enhance his program at special events.
Ermal is the recipient of the 2003 IGCITA Best Male Impersonator of the Year Award
in Las Vegas and performed in Branson, Missouri with Paula Erlene in the production, "John Wayne and America's Yodeling Sweetheart". He adds all of his experiences in bringing to the audiences exciting anecdotes about Duke with Paula singing and yodeling, incorporating real Western history and folk lore while keeping his readers on the edge of their seats. They also carry their show on stage in other cities, in churches and schools and for special events.
He has traveled far and wide, impersonating John Wayne. He got his start when he wrote, directed and starred in his one-man production.
He is an actor, author, entertainer, corporate host, emcee and motivational speaker, as well as a look-alike and impersonator.
Ermal was raised in a “mercy home”, similar to an orphanage, in Birmingham, Alabama when his father deserted his mother and the rest of his family just after he was born. During WWII, his mother remarried and sent for him in the Motor City, old Dearborn, Michigan. Like a typical boy, he ran away from home and joined the Marine Corps. When he came out, he got his first job in the hot melt shop of a steel mill for 3-1/2 years working for wages at $1.72 per hour. He made rent payments by working double shifts as often as he could. While hoofing it through his childhood years, mostly on his own, this inspired Ermal to become an actor with visions of becoming another John Wayne. He put his writing on hold, wanting to experience first hand what he was to write later down the road.
He married the former Miss Elizabeth Mary "Betty" Patterson, of Wyandotte, Michigan and then moved his wife and two children, Elizabeth Mary and Ermal “Bill” to Hollywood, California to break into motion pictures. To become the professional actor as he should, he studied and performed Chekov, Shakespeare, Wilde, Williams, and more playwrights although his heart and soul was in doing Western films. Then one day, he performed in the lead role in a one-act play at California State University at Los Angeles, The Purification, using actions established by the Duke as a cowboy. “I suppose no one knew it but me.” His third child Daniel Walden was born the year before, and he continued to work full time and attend school at night and take some classes during the day to earn his degree. It was important to him, as no one in his family of three brothers and three sisters ever earned a degree, let alone his mother or dad. This Motivational Force kept Ermal grounded as he pursued every facet of his professional life while "home on the ranch" where he worked hard on instilling the American Work Ethic into their Family of three children, Elizabeth Mary, Ermal “Bill” and Daniel.
He took up more acting classes at Paramount Studios after graduating from college with a BS Degree in drama, and found himself with Jerry Paris, an acting coach who accepted the unbridled task of teaching him and who later, would become a close and devoted friend.. “Just before his passing away, Jerry told me that I would appear in his next film, a third sequel to "Police Academy". Paris made for certain that Ermal was firmly planted on the set, constantly preparing him for his "Big Break”. However, as Fate would have it, instead, Ermal appeared in the supporting role of
Randolph Hearst in "The Patty Hearst" movie, playing opposite Natasha Richardson.
Here are suspenseful scenes with Natasha as "Patty Hearst".
As a SAG, AFTRA and AEA actor, one can find
Ermal in many types of films and plays. He appeared with Tom Hanks as his butler in "Bonfires
of the Vanity", and has appeared in dozens of sitcoms
such as "The Twilight Zone", "General Hospital",
Superior Court, The Judge, "Evening
Shade", "Delta", "Golden Girls",
as well as movies made for TV"Woman Against the Odds",
Lies Before Kisses, and others. Also, Ermal starred
in "Star Quest", a Sci-Fi movie opposite Burt Ward.
He has appeared on stage with Jean Stapleton, and Marion Ross.
On Hollywood and Vine Ermal starred in "Medea at the
Stardust Grill" and won rave reviews.
He wrote, directed
and produced his one-man show "Memories with John Wayne
and Gary Cooper."
Ermal is the actor who is doing all those “COORS LIGHT” commercials as the Duke. He appears here as the Duke in "The Commancheros". Duke's face is digitized, using Ermal's body.
You can catch Ermal as the Duke in many Coors commercials on the Sports Channe and in some sitcoms (such as "Friends"). Ermal is the principal actor in these commercials that are constantly being shown across the country.
Fully utilizing his writing and acting talents, Ermal’s one-man show of the Duke is a composition where he scored and produced the Life Story of John Wayne (from the cradle to the grave) in entertaining anecdotes and yarns. As a raconteur, Ermal is a frequent speaker, host and emcee at corporate events, supper clubs, seminars and organizations. He performs as a professional host and emcee, giving motivational speeches about the Duke’s life and movies that encapsulate between 15 minutes to two hours in pure entertainment. He is a well-diversified man of many talents, culminating in one character: the Western Cowboy, beloved by people around the world.
His life has been devoted to John Wayne in that he covers all aspects of his impersonation of JOHN WAYNE. He does the talk, the walk, and the nuances in all facets of his very being on the screen. He performs as Duke in weekly half-hour cable TV segments as the Duke in first person talking about his life, his movies, and giving personal anecdotes. Ermal started out performing and continues to do exceptionally well as GARY COOPER and, as the professional impersonator, is ready at the drop of a “Stetson” to impersonate him.
Ermal performed in Sonora, California on the location site of “High Noon” on location sites during the annual Sonora Film Festival, on Railroad Days in Jamestown at their famous Jamestown Railroad and High Noon sites along the rails of Oakdale.
As a bonafide Southern Baptist ordained minister with a Masters Degree from the Golden Gate Baptist Theological Seminary in Strawberry Point, California and a Doctor of Ministry Degree from the Fuller Theological Seminary in Pasadena, California, Ermal has been the pastor of three churches in the course of pursuing his acting career. Again, as Fate would have it, shortly after his return to acting, Hollywood asked him to perform as the Gary Cooper double, and then, the John Wayne look-alike. Having established himself in this rare niche, he can honestly say that his life-long dream has come true. FIRST COWBOY MINISTER of all time.
With an undisputed track record consisting of four degrees, two-and-a-half years in law school, Marine Corp experience, a rough-and-tough steelworker stint, cowboy stuntman thrilling the tour trams at Universal Studios, expertise on the Wild West, and a John Wayne and Gary Cooper impersonator, he has put his daily life-long experiences to work for him in all that he does, while remaining an humble and pious man. His creative writings reflect his no bars philosophies. Ermal does not hold back. Moreover, as an ordained minister, he still conducts weddings as the Duke in Western or military wardrobes on location, in a church, or aboard Duke’s famous yacht the “Wild Goose". Ermal has written patriotic poetry as: “John Wayne, American”, “Just a Piece of Cloth”, “America’s Kids Today”, and others that he recites on-stage and/or on horseback. Ermal has been told throughout the years, (on more than a hundred occasions) that he is more of the Reincarnation and Embodiment of the Great John Wayne than an impersonator, following in the footsteps of one of America's Great Heroes, inspiring those around him by seeking his dreams in his own devout and dedicated way.
"I tell you - his is the GREATEST PERFORMANCE OF AN IMPERSONATION THAT I HAVE EVER SEEN. And, most of you already know that I have been in the motion picture business ever since I was ten years old. . . . His act is not good - IT IS GREAT. IT IS EXCELLENT!” Ned Shaheen – Hollywood Producer.
"Saw your TV show - Great. A Fan. Burt Kennedy."
(The late Burt Kennedy was the writer and director of several John Wayne movies.)
To hone and perfect his writing ability, Ermal drew upon his rich life-time experiences and lessons learned by being a Marine, a steelman, a stuntman, and a man from the Deep South. To date, he has authored three Western novels with a single theme, “BRAZOS.” “Across The Brazos", "The Man From the Brazos", "Call of the Brazos", "We Conquer or Die", "The Last Bullet" "The Ghost of Ginny McBride"and "Beyond the Brazos" are the seven books he has finished, respectively. All three, published by Loveland Press, are selling on www.amazon.com and in bookstores throughout the country. His fourth novel, “Four Years Before the Brazos” is ready for publication and he is diligently penning his fifth. All his books run in a series and they will be seven all toll, maintaining the BRAZOS theme. Ermal's goal is to carry the theme to new levels. For those who are not fluent in Spanish or Basic Cowboy-ese, the BRAZOS is the River that runs some 870 miles through Texas. It means, "Hands of God" and is spelled out in his first novel, "Across the Brazos". Legend has it that whenever a man and a woman enter the Brazos and the River churns up, it is a glowing Good Luck Omen that the Princess blesses the Couple with Love. Indeed, with this is the Life Story of a Man who has met and conquered his Glowing Brazos, inspiring and entertaining all those whom he meets and those that meet him.
ERMAL'S ARCHIVAL PHOTO-COLLAGE OF
A WELL-WRITTEN & RIDDEN LIFE
Ermal did two documentaries in Monument Valley - one for the Duke and the other for John Ford. He rode with Harry Carey, Jr. for three days as a tribute to the late Ben Johnson.
Ermal's recitation of his "John Wayne, American"at a rodeo.
He stands on the port window of the Wild Goose
He rests after a longhorn cattle drive which ended on the campus of LSU, Louisiana.
Tribute to Duke and Ermal by Ray Kelly
Yes! That’s Ermal on the cover of his books.