The 1979 film Hair brought the iconic, hippie-age musical of that name to the silver screen.
The musical, which saw its Broadway debut in 1968, captured the exuberant flower-child zeitgeist of the 1960s through the lens of a band of New York City hippies.
The film’s enduring status came to light this week following the death of its star, Treat Williams, who passed away Tuesday at age 71 following a motorcycle accident in Vermont.
The loss has prompted many to reflect on the actor’s manifold contributions to entertainment over his nearly half-century-long career – which took off with a bang, not to mention literal bangs, with his portrayal of Berger in Hair.
Hair (1979) followed a tribe of hippies living in New York City in the late 1960s
Treat Williams, pictured at center in character as hippie Berger, passed away earlier this week at age 71
Though its film adaptation arrived roughly a decade after the hippie era peaked in the late 1960s, the story, with its broader empathetic depiction of counterculture lifestyles, has proved timeless.
As The New York Times wrote in its 1979 review, the movie delivers ‘a rollicking musical memoir, as much a recollection of the show as of the period, a film that has the charm of a fable and the slickness of Broadway show biz at its breathless best.’
The film begins with a chance encounter, leading a group of hippies – led by the charismatic Berger – to take a quiet, recently drafted young man from Oklahoma, Claude – played by John Savage – under their wing for the short time he has in the city before he’s shipped off to fight in Vietnam.
Actors Annie Golden, 71, Dorsey Wright, 66, and Don Dacus, 71, played the other core members of the hippie clan, respectively named Jeannie, Hud and Woof.
Jeannie, meanwhile, is pregnant, the father being one of the men in their circle.
Claude in tow, the group ends up courting the attention of a wealthy young socialite named Sheila – played by Beverly D’Angelo, 71 – who appears secretly delighted when the gang crashes her parents’ hoity toity private party at their New Jersey estate.
Facing jail time for trespassing, Berger uses Claude’s only $50 of emergency cash to bail himself out, promising to use his freedom to hunt down bail money for everyone else.
Berger then tries and fails to procure the outstanding bail money from Sheila before resorting to asking his mom for the cash.
Williams died following a motorcycle accident in Vermont
The actor, pictured third from left at Cannes in 1979, is survived by a wife Pam Van Sant, 68, and their kids, Gill, 31, and Ellie, 24
Upon getting out of jail, the newly reunited group heads to a peace rally in Central Park.
There, they’re joined by Sheila, who apologizes for not being able to front the money.
The group strips down and jumps in the Central Park pond for Claude’s last night before deploying.
Some months later, in the winter, Sheila shows off a letter she’s received from Claude, who’s at army training camp in Nevada.
The group hits the road to visit Claude before he’s shipped off to Vietnam. Berger, who sneaks into the training camp dressed as a general, surprises Claude, telling him that everyone, including Sheila, has come to see him.
Claude refuses to abandon his duties, but agrees to let Berger temporarily assume his identity by giving him his uniform to wear so he can sneak off to see Sheila.
However, in the short time he’s gone, the army camp’s leaders announce it’s time for the platoon to ship off to Vietnam.
Claude rushes back to the camp, only to discover that Berger been loaded onto the Vietnam-bound army plane in his place.
Sometime later, Claude, Sheila, Jeannie, Hud and Woof are seen standing in Arlington National Cemetery over Berger’s grave.
Ahead of the film’s 45th anniversary next year, take a look at where its stars are now.
Treat Williams, who passed away last week, appeared in a string of made-for-TV movies before landing the lead on Everwood
Treat Williams, who starred in Hair as Berger, passed away earlier this week at age 71
The peace-loving Berger tries and fails to coax Claude to skip out on reporting to the army
Williams performed the track I Got Life while demolishing the dining room at an upscale party he’d crashed
Williams starred as Berger, the magnetic leader of the ragtag hippie crew. The actor perfectly embodied the rebel-with-a-cause persona – both idealistic and unafraid to stir up trouble for the establishment, be it out of necessity or for adventure’s sake.
It took 12 auditions before Williams finally nabbed the role. At his final one, he recalled, ‘I started removing all of my clothing. At the end of the monologue, I was standing stark naked in front of them.
‘They apploaded … I told them: “This is all that I’ve got, I don’t know what else I can give you'” – and luckily, the bold move did the trick.
Of his character’s signature, shoulder-length brown shag, he told The New York Times in 1980, ‘All that hair in Hair wasn’t my own … A lot of it was woven into my own hair right at the scalp. If I moved the wrong way in my sleep, I’d pull it and make my scalp bleed.’
After his critically lauded turn in the musical flick, Williams went on to star as NYPD officer Danny Ciello in the 1981 neo-noir crime thriller Prince of the City.
The film follows his narcotics-detective character as he grapples with the moral dilemma of turning in his corrupt colleagues – to generally tragic ends.
Roger Ebert wrote of the ‘demanding and grueling’ performance that ‘Williams is almost always onscreen, and almost always in situations of extreme stress, fatigue, and emotional turmoil. We see him coming apart before our eyes.’
In keeping with maverick bad-boy theme, among his next major roles was as infamous, still-at-large plane-hijacker D.B. Cooper in 1981’s The Pursuit of D.B. Cooper, playing opposite Robert Duvall’s airline insurance agent trying to track him down.
The subsequent decades saw him star in a string of made-for-TV movies, among them: boxer Jack Dempsey in 1983’s Dempsey; Stanley Kowalski in 1984’s A Streetcar Named Desire; the titular role in 1987’s J. Edgar Hoover; holocaust survivor Max Rosenberg in 1990’s Max and Helen; and detective Jack Brenner in 1995’s In The Shadow of Evil, which also featured William H. Macy.
The actor was also beloved as Dr. Andy Brown on TV show Everwood, which ran for four seasons from 2002 to 2006
Williams has said of his aviation hobby, ‘It’s very close to me for church … it’s a place where I feel that I’m in control of my life, which in our industry is very difficult to feel’
In 1984, he could be seen as union boss Jimmy O’Donnell in Sergio Leone’s 1984 historical organized-crime drama Once Upon a Time in America opposite the likes of Robert de Niro and James Woods.
In 1999, Williams stared with Michelle Pfeiffer in family drama The Deep End of the Ocean, with Variety describing their performances as ‘magnetic.’
Williams also appeared in 2005’s Miss Congeniality 2: Armed & Fabulous as FBI Assistant Director Walter Collins – a bureau chief who plays the antagonist to star Sandra Bullock’s agent Gracie Hart.
In the early aughts. Williams landed a starring role on Warner Brothers teen-drama Everwood, playing a neurosurgeon who moves with his two kids from NYC to Everwood, Colorado after his wife dies in a car crash.
Of the role, The New York Times wrote that ‘Treat Williams has rarely looked as comfortable as he does’ in the show, described as ‘a promising new drama full of wry touches.’
Everwood lasted for four seasons, airing from 2002 to 2006. On the 15th anniversary of its premiere in 2017, The Salt Lake City Tribune declared that the show (which was filmed in Utah) had again become ‘cool’ after being made available on The CW’s streaming platform.
Covering on a press conference marking the occasion, the paper reported that actress Vivien Cardone, who played the 9-year-old daughter of Williams’ Dr. Andy Brown, ended up with Williams becoming something of a father figure to her IRL, too.
Having moved to Utah with her mom and siblings for the role, Cardone, 30, said that at the time she ‘didn’t even know there was a state called Utah … I really didn’t know anyone. I had no friends. It was a completely different environment, and so I really looked at this whole group as my second family.’
The actor went on to marry actress Pam Van Sant, 68, with whom he shared kids Gill, 31, and Ellie, 24
Adding that her dad had to stay in NYC for work, she recalled that ‘Treat came up to me, and he said, “I’ll make a deal with you … If you promise to be my temporary daughter, I’ll be your temporary father.” And that bond has stayed ever since.’
‘Still making us cry, Williams chimed in.
Throughout his life, Williams was an avid aviation enthusiast, having gotten his pilot’s license at age 17.
In what is thought to be among his last interviews, he described using the money from being John Travolta’s understudy in the Broadway production of Grease in the early 1970s to buy his first plane.
He further said of flying: ‘It’s very close to me for church. It is a place where I can commune with a higher power; it’s a place where I feel that I’m in control of my life, which in our industry is very difficult to feel.’
Williams is survived by his wife of 35 years, Pam Van Sant, 68, and his two kids, Gill, 31, and Ellie, 24.
In February, Williams shared a photo of his family to his Instagram on the occasion of his wife’s birthday, captioning the pic, ‘You are the love of my life. What joy you have given us. More adventures to come!’
John Savage would go on to star in 1979’s The Onion Field and 1980’s Inside Moves – and has ultimately racked up more than 200 film and TV credits over his career
John Savage, 73, portrayed Claude, a young man from Oklahoma who is en route to report for service after being drafted into the army
In Hair, Claude meets Berger and his friends through a chance encounter in Central Park
In Hair, Savage, 73, brought to life the wide-eyed, unassuming character of Claude, an Oklahoma native drafted into the army who spends his last free days before reporting for duty with Berger and the gang – developing an intense crush on Sheila along the way.
Following Hair, Savage led the cast of 1979’s The Onion Field – a film based on a true-crime novel that follows Savage’s police officer character Karl Hettinger in the aftermath of a kidnapping that resulted in his partner’s murder, with Karl narrowly escaping the same fate.
Next came a starring role in the critically acclaimed 1980 drama Inside Moves as Roary, a man whose suicide attempt leaves him crippled.
Of Savage’s performance, Janet Maslin of The New York Times wrote, ‘Mr. Savage moves through his part slowly and gracefully, notwithstanding the lurching, crablike gait his Roary develops after the the fall…
‘Indeed, understatement has muffled many of his prior performances, but this is the one that brings him out of his shell.
‘It’s a touching, carefully detailed characterization, and it even manages to generate a little suspense as to when Roary will move from passivity to action.’
Savage is pictured at left in Spike Lee’s Do The Right Thing (1989)
In Oliver Stone’s Salvador (1985), Savage portrayed John Hoagland, a character based on the real-life photojournalist who was killed in crossfire while covering the Salvadoran Civil War.
Savage went on to appear in some of the best-loved dramas of the late 20th century, including Spike Lee’s Do The Right Thing (1989); Francis Ford Coppola’s The Godfather III (1990); and Terrence Malick’s The Thin Red Line (1998).
He also had a small role in 1995 revenge-thriller The Crossing Guard, Sean Penn’s second directorial bid that starred Jack Nicholson.
Since the new millennium, Savage has acted in a slew of indie films and made-for-TV flicks – along with a few Law & Order appearances,
The 2020 Vietnam War drama The Last Full Measure saw Savage’s career come full circle from his role in Hair playing a Vietnam War vet coping with his trauma in isolation ‘with the help of deep breathing – and butterflies,’ per a review from Vietnam Veterans of America.
Prior to appearing in Hair, Savage was married to actress Susan Youngs from 1967 to 1969. The brief union produced kids Jennifer Youngs, 53, and Lachlan Youngs – both of whom also became actors.
Savage didn’t wed again until 1993, when when he tied the knot with actress Sandra Schultz, 59. The two stayed together for a decade before parting ways in 2003.
Beverly D’Angelo played Ellen Griswold in the National Lampoon franchise – while enjoying a dynamic love life behind the scenes
Beverly D’Angelo, 71, saw her first leading on-screen role in Hair as Sheila
Among the best-known alums of Hair, D’Angelo, 71, shone in what would prove to be her breakout role as sheltered rich-girl Sheila, who becomes drawn to the carefree lifestyle of Berger and his friends.
Soon after, she took on the starring role of critically lauded biographical drama Coal Miner’s Daughter (1980), playing country singer Patsy Cline. The performance earned her a Golden Globe nod for Best Supporting Actress.
Her career arc forayed into the comedy genre in the early 1980s with her portrayal of Ellen Griswold, wife to Chevy Chase’s Clark Griswold, in National Lampoon’s Vacation (1983) – a role she’d reprise across several feature-film sequels.
D’Angelo’s personal life has been a roller coaster. Between 1980 and 1981, she was briefly involved with Hair director Miloš Forman, who passed away in 2018 at age 86.
In Hair, D’Angelo portrayed Sheila, a young woman from a wealthy family who becomes intrigued by Berger and his friends’ lifestyle
The bombshell went on to have quite the dynamic love life
The end of the fling with Forman seemingly precipitated D’Angelo’s meeting with Italian duke Lorenzo Salviati, 66, whom she’d eventually come to describe as her ‘soulmate.’
The story of D’Angelo and Salviati’s romance began at a party in Saint Tropez, where Forman drunkenly ‘”started singing this really insulting song,”‘ she told People.
Salviati’s cousin, Princess Claudia Ruspoli, reportedly threw a glass of wine in Forman’s face.
The move prompted D’Angelo to declare to her ‘”You are now my best friend” … I’d always wanted to see how that happens because it’s such a cinematic thing that was fantastic.’
The princess insisted that she introduce D’Angelo to Salviati, who at the time was studying economics at USC. D’Angelo admitted to People she initially ‘lost the phone number. I didn’t look him up.’
But not long after, D’Angelo recalled being at a party in LA when ‘this gorgeous man walked in’ – and it turned out to be Salviati, then 24, five years her junior.
A whirlwind romance ensued, culminating with the two eloping in Las Vegas over Labor Day weekend of 1981.
D’Angelo met Italian duke Lorenzo Salviati, 66, at a party in 1981. The ex-spouses are pictured here in 1982
Though she ultimately asked him for a divorce, D’Angelo still calls Lorenzo her ‘soulmate’
‘Our vows were basically like, “We’re going to live our lives and we’re going to end up together.” I loved it,’ D’Angelo recalled.
Speaking to People a month after tying the knot, D’Angelo gushed that her dream living situation would be to ‘run off to the jungle with Lorenzo and live like an animal.’
Of his other half, Salviati told the mag at the tine that ‘I love Beverly because she sees life with the eyes of a child but lives it with the heart of a woman.’
At the beginning of their marriage, The New York Times reported the couple resided together on the duke’s 7,000-acre estate outside of Pisa, Italy.
While insisting to People as recently as December 2022 that Salviati remains her ‘soulmate.’
‘But,’ she added, ‘here’s the thing about soulmates: it’s boring. When you find your soulmate, you will be sitting there and you’ll go, “Now what?” Because all of that striving and yearning is taken care of. So you’re just like, “Yeah, where are we going to go for dinner?”‘
This would seemingly explain why, a several years into the marriage, their relationship became more or less an open one.
As D’Angelo described to People, while the two were free to date whomever else they pleased, ‘if there were any crises or anything important, we’d come back together.’
For D’Angelo’s part, she became involved with Irish novelist and director Neil Jordan starting around 1985, and dated him for roughly five years. The two worked together on 1988’s High Spirits and 1991’s The Miracle.
The actress went on to play Ellen Griswold – wife of Chevy Chase’s Clark – in the comedic National Lampoon franchise
‘We made The Miracle while we were breaking up,” she told The New York Times in a 1992 interview. ‘We both put a lot of ourselves into it. It was hell for both of us to go through, but I’m kind of proud that I did. And I’m pleased with the result.’
While still married to Salviati , the actress was also linked to production designer Anton Furst as well as actors Scott Baio and Damian Chapa between the late ’80s and early ’90s
In D’Angelo’s telling, none of her lovers protested (or, at least, successfully protested) her ongoing marriage to Salviati – that is, until she began dating Al Pacino in 1997, having met him on an airplane the year prior.
Of her arrangement with the duke, Pacino, 83, reportedly told D’Angelo, ‘”Well, that’s crazy.”‘
D’Angelo phoned up Salviati to ask for a divorce. The exchange, as D’Angelo recounted to People, progressed as so:
‘I said, “I’m in love.” He goes, “Oh, Beverly, who is it this time?” And I said, “Well, it’s an actor.” He went, “An actor? No, no, not an actor.” And I said, “I really love him and we’re talking about having kids and he thinks it’s crazy that I’m married and now I’m thinking it is too.”‘
D’Angelo and Al Pacino, 83, were together for seven years, from 1997 to 2004
Anton James and Olivia Rose Pacino, are pictured with D’Angelo and her niece, Courtney
At first, D’Angelo recalled, Salviati wasn’t having it. ‘He went, “Oh, that’s ridiculous. Who thinks this is crazy, this perfect relationship? Who is this actor?” I said, “Well, it’s Al Pacino.” He goes, “Al Pacino, he’s fantastic. I love him. We divorce!”‘
Pacino and D’Angelo never tied the knot, but stayed together for seven years. In 2001, when D’Angelo was 49 and Pacino was 60, the pair welcomed fraternal twins Anton James and Olivia Rose, both now 22.
Shortly after, she and Pacino split in 2004.
The twins are D’Angelo’s only kids, while Pacino just had his fourth child, son Roman, with 29-year-old Noor Alfallah.
In the years since, D’Angelo apparently thrown herself into motherhood, telling People in 2022 that ‘The greatest gift that Al ever gave me was to make me a mother.’
Annie Golden went on to play mute prisoner Norma Romano on Orange Is The New Black
Annie Golden, 71, played quirky free-spirit Jeannie
In Hair, Golden, 71, depicted gentle, quirky free-spirit Jeannie.
During a 2018 cast reunion, Golden explained that director Miloš Forman recruited her for the role after seeing her at famed downtown-punk music venue CBGB, where she’d been performing as the lead singer of punk band The Shirts.
‘He came to CBGB’s because that was the scene,’ Golden said in the press conference, according to WBUR. “He likes unknowns. He likes raw diamonds. And he picked me for Jeannie.’
She added that the part was ‘life changing.’
Since making her acting debut in Hair, she’s appeared in a variety of stage productions.
Golden appeared as mute prisoner Norma Romano on Orange is The New Black for five of the show’s seven seasons
Among her favorite roles over the years, according to an interview with Arts Beat LA, has been female lead Audrey in Little Shop of Hours at the East Village’s Orpheum Theatre in the mid-1980s.
She’s also had roles on Miami Vice, Cheers, Law & Order and The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel – as well as a small part in 2009’s dark romantic-comedy I Love You Phillip Morris, starring Jim Carey and Ewan McGregor.
Golden has recently enjoyed a resurgence in her acting career with her portrayal of mute prisoner Norma Romano on Orange Is The New Black.
Speaking of how she got cast in OITNB, Golden explained that ‘it was [producer and writer] Jenji Kohan who had seen Hair as a child, and she said, “That woman should be … a household name,”‘ adding that, from there, ‘Everything kind of unfolded.’
Donnie Dacus didn’t act professionally after Hair, instead sticking to his musician roots
As laid-back hippie Woof, Donnie Dacus, 71,played laid-back hippie Woof
Hair ultimately marked rock-musician Dacus’ only professional acting credit
After Hair, Dacus played with the bands Chicago and Badfinger
A musician first and foremost, Dacus 71, made his acting debut as laid-back hippie Woof in Hair.
On screen, he led the film’s titular musical number, with Woof’s rendition coming as the character lands in jail and protests the warden cutting his blond, shoulder-length locks.
Hair remains Dacus’ only acting credit to date.
Shortly after, the guitarist had a brief stint in the band Chicago between 1978 and 1980.
In 1982, the native Texan went on to join Welsh rock band Badfinger. He was involved with the group as recently as the early aughts.
Dacus can also be heard as a back-up vocalist on Billy Joel’s 1978 track My Life.
Dorsey Wright starred in cult classic The Warriors (1979) and reportedly now works for the New York Transit Authority
Bronx native Dorsey Wright, 66, who played Hud, was the youngest actor out of the core cast
Wright (pictured at far left) went on to star in cult classic The Warriors
The youngest of Hair’s core cast, Wright, 66, played Hud, a hippie who’s revealed to have left his young son and fiancée to immerse himself in the free-wheeling flower-child lifestyle.
By the end of the film, it’s implied that his family has become integrated into the group.
The same year Hair was released, the Bronx native also starred in cult classic The Warriors as Cleon, the leader of a Coney Island-based street gang after which the film is named.
Wright’s acting career tapered off in the subsequent decades, though he went on to voice Cleon in a 2005 video game based on the flick.
It’s since been reported he now works for the New York Transit Authority.