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Actor Treat Williams Has Passed Away at 71

The iconic star played Severide's dad, Benny, on Chicago Fire.

By Christopher Rosa

Actor Treat Williams — who Chicago Fire fans know as Kelly Severide's (Taylor Kinney) father, Benny — has died from a motorcycle accident, his loved ones announced Monday evening, June 12. He was 71 years old. 

How to Watch

Watch the Season 13 premiere of Chicago Fire Wednesday, September 25 at 9/8c on NBC

"It is with great sadness that we report that our beloved Treat Williams has passed away tonight in Dorset, Vermont after a fatal motorcycle accident," his family said in a statement, according to NBC News. "As you can imagine, we are shocked and greatly bereaved at this time."

Williams had an acclaimed career across film, television, and stage. He got his big break playing Danny Zuko in Grease on Broadway. He'd go on to appear in several other theater productions, as well, including The Pirates of PenzanceOleanna, and lastly Follies in 2001 before focusing on the screen. 

His big break in movies arguably came in 1979, when he played George Berger in Hair, for which he earned a Golden Globe nomination for New Star of the Year, Actor. Between then and 2021, he made appearances in dozens of films, including Prince of the CitySmooth TalkMiss Congeniality 2: Armed and FabulousWhat Happens in VegasSecond Act, and 12 Mighty Orphans, his final film role before passing. 

Bennie Severide (Treat Williams) appears in a scene from Chicago Fire.

However, it's Williams' television tenure where our viewers know him best. He had a recurring role on Chicago Fire as Benny Severide, Kelly 's father whom he has a contentious relationship with. Benny's character came up as recently as the Season 11 finale, when Stella (Miranda Rae Mayo) worried Kelly was co-opting Benny's drifter ways. 

Williams also appeared on Law & Order: Special Victims Unit in Season 13, Episode 10 ("Spiraling Down," 2011). 

Williams' longtime agent, Barry McPherson, told CNN in an interview about his untimely passing, “I’m just devastated. He was the nicest guy. He was so talented. He was an actor’s actor. Filmmakers loved him. He’s been the heart of Hollywood since the late 1970s." 

An actor's actor he was. In an "Acting Lessons" video for Netflix, in fact, Williams urged young performers, "The one thing I would say is be concerned with what you’re doing, not how you’re doing. If you’re very focused on what you have to say, or what you’re trying to tell the other person, or what you’re sharing with the audience, you’re going to be a lot more comfortable, and I think, truthful.”