Bill was bigger than life...but infinitely human. He was a rock star...but the glint in his eye always let you know that he KNEW it was a role he was playing. He was smart, funny, combative, kind, bombastic, pompous, self-deprecating and immensely talented...all at the same time.
He was a hometown boy who loved Detroit...and it showed.
He always added a "Y" to guys names... He was "Billy", I was "Dicky".
I loved him as a person, but also, of course, because he provided my radio show with a LOT of material through the years. Especially his challenging of Coleman Young to a fist fight...and his toupee which occasionally was "askew".
He always wore his overcoat over his shoulder like a cape, so when he walked into a room or an event, he stood out...which is exactly what Billy wanted to do.
He wanted to be the center of attention, both on the air and off, and he was.
What seemed to many at the time to be braggadocios behavior (and it was to those who didn't know him), the truth is, it was simply part of his Charm.
The camera loved Bill and Bill loved the camera. It wasn't just that he was a terrific newsman, he was an actor too. He had a bit (or maybe a lot) of Ted Baxter in him. That's why he was so unique and the combination of dedicated newsman/actor made him so watchable for so long.
While it's true that the movie "Anchorman" was based on Mort Crim during his time in Philadelphia...it always seemed to me it should have been based on Bill. He had it all... He was totally unique, one of a kind, never to be repeated.
Rest in Peace Billy. Our thoughts and prayers are with Karen and the family.
I highly doubt you're in the same place as Coleman...but it's nice to think of the two of you going at it again.