Falling Asleep at the Wheel and Alert Drops

with Anson WIlliams, Actor & Inventor of Alert Drops and Daniel Brown, attorney & National Sleep Foundation Member
790 KABC, September 23, 2017

Anson Williams is an American actor and director best known for his role as gullible but well-intentioned singer Warren "Potsie" Weber on the television series Happy Days (1974–1984), a role for which he was nominated for the Golden Globe Award for Best Supporting Actor-Series, Miniseries or Television Film..

Williams has since become a prominent television director, working on programs such as Melrose Place (1992–1999), Beverly Hills, 90210 (1990–2000), Sabrina the Teenage Witch (1996–2003), Lizzie McGuire (2001–2004) and The Secret Life of the American Teenager (2008–2013).

In 1972, Williams landed the role of Potsie Weber in a segment of the comedy-anthology series Love, American Style titled "Love and the Happy Days", which also introduced Richie Cunningham (Ron Howard), Richie's mother Marion (Marion Ross), and other characters that were spun off into the television series Happy Days. (Only Williams, Howard, and Ross reprised their roles for the spin-off). The new series' first season, during which Williams received second billing after Howard, was centered mainly on Richie and Potsie. Eventually, as break-out character Arthur "Fonzie" Fonzarelli (Henry Winkler) and Richie's mother, father, and sister became more popular, Potsie was joined by Ralph Malph (Don Most, who was merely a side character in season one), and Potsie and Ralph became inseparable.

Unlike Howard and Most, Williams was one of the few to remain through the entire run of the series, although his appearances became less frequent in later seasons. In some episodes, Richie, Potsie, and Ralph formed a band combo that performed at Arnold's Drive-In and other places. As Potsie, Williams actually sang lead vocals for the group. Williams' first wife, Lorrie Mahaffey, portrayed Potsie's girlfriend, Jennifer, in later seasons.

Williams is also a businessman. In 1987, fellow Happy Days cast member Al Molinaro and he opened a chain of diners called Big Al's; the business went defunct. He founded Starmaker Products, a cosmetics company, and was a featured speaker at the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office’s National Trademark Expo in April 2008, at which he talked about the importance of registered trademarks for small businesses (and signed autographs for Happy Days fans). Williams is the author of Singing to a Bulldog: From Happy Days to Hollywood Director, and the Unlikely Mentor Who Got Me There.

Anson’s most recent business venture started about 16 years ago when Anson Williams was driving home and nearly lost his life. On a sweltering hot day, the now 67-year-old former “Happy Days” star, who was suffering from dehydration, fell asleep at the wheel. “I ended up bouncing around in the [California] desert,” Williams told Fox News. “I’m so lucky to be alive.”

After the incident, the actor reached out to his uncle Dr. Henry Heimlich, the inventor behind the well-known technique for saving choking victims. Heimlich suggested a remedy many people already have in their kitchens. “He said to cut up lemons and whenever I felt drowsy, just bite into them,” said Williams. “When the citric acid and sour combination hits the nerve on your tongue, it creates an immediate adrenalin-reflex-body reaction that instantly makes you alert... I never had that problem again. I would always feel instantly awake and alert.” Williams didn’t want to keep his remedy a secret.

“My business partner and I learned that one of the most catastrophic issues in our country, on the same order of guns, drugs, and drinking, is drowsy driving,” he explained. “One out of five drivers admit to falling asleep at the wheel at one time. I thought 'We can help this. We can cure this.' I talked to Dr. Heimlich and asked if we can put lemons into spray drops… he said absolutely. It’s all about the placement, the top of your tongue. He said if you get the right combination, it should work beautifully.”

Williams, along with business partner JoAnna Connell, developed Alert Drops in 2015 and it took two years to perfect before they decided to release it to the public in 2017. He described the product as portable and caffeine-free.

 “It’s literally creating a lemon in a spray,” he said. “You spray that on your tongue when you’re feeling drowsy and you will instantly be alert and awake. Dr. Heimlich passed away in December, but the last few phone calls we had before, he really made me promise that I would get Alert Drops out to the public. He said it would save more lives than the Heimlich maneuver.”