Homeless man finds success with "golden voice"

Thu Jan 6, 2011 5:23pm EST
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By Christine Kearney

NEW YORK (Reuters) - He's not quite Susan Boyle.

But one of America's first viral videos of 2011 has propelled a homeless man, who was filmed begging for money with a baritone-rich radio voice, to national attention and job offers.

Ted Williams, a 53 year-old former radio announcer who became homeless after battling drugs and alcohol, attracted millions of YouTube hits after The Columbus Dispatch newspaper posted a video on Monday of Williams begging on the side of a road in Columbus, Ohio, using his radio emcee imitations.(here)

By Thursday, Williams appeared on morning news programs including "The Today Show" to talk about new voice-over job offers with the Cleveland Cavaliers basketball team and foodmaker Kraft and his stunning instant rise from begging on the streets.

"I feel like Susan Boyle," Williams, 53, said in The Columbus Dispatch, "Or Justin Bieber."

Boyle, of course, is the British woman whose strong voice was discovered on a TV talent show, and Canadian Bieber has become one of North America's biggest pop stars after getting his start by posting his own videos on YouTube.

On Thursday, Williams told 'Today' he was astounded by the attention. "Outrageous, it's just phenomenal. There is no way in the world that I could ever have imagined ... all of this," he said.

He recounted his days working as a radio DJ in the 1980s before battling drugs and alcohol, drinking as much as a full bottle of liquor a day. By 1993, he found himself in homeless shelters and even served time in prison.   Continued...

<p>Homeless man Ted Williams appears on NBC's "Today" show in New York January 6, 2011. Williams appeared on YouTube as a homeless man begging for money and has become a national sensation due to his voice. REUTERS/Peter Kramer/NBC/Handout</p>