Who is Teruko Nakagami? Meet Billy Dee Williams Wife

Billy Dee Williams, the legendary Hollywood actor known for iconic films like Star Wars and Lady Sings the Blues has led a remarkable life both on and off-screen. 

While the world knows Williams for his seminal acting roles over an illustrious career spanning more than 50 years in show business, few are familiar with the woman who won over this Hollywood legend’s heart later in his life– his wife and life partner Teruko Nakagami.

So who is Teruko Nakagami, the steadfast woman who became the third wife to acclaimed actor Billy Dee Williams? 

How did she connect so strongly with a man nearly 30 years her senior from such a drastically different personal and cultural background? 

Read on to learn the story of how this private person, Japanese-American fashion designer and philanthropist defied the odds and found enduring love with one of Hollywood’s most celebrated Black leading men.

Billy Dee Williams’ Legendary Acting Career

Billy Dee Williams' Legendary Acting Career

To understand Teruko and Billy Dee Williams’ unlikely love story, it helps to know what a culture-crossing trailblazer Williams himself was over his decades of acting.

After small TV roles through the 1960s, Williams landed major feature films like:

  • Brian’s Song (1971)
  • Lady Sings the Blues (1972)
  • Mahogany (1975)

Of course, his most iconic role came as the smooth-talking scoundrel Lando Calrissian across the Star Wars film franchise:

  • Star Wars: The Empire Strikes Back (1980)
  • Return of the Jedi (1983)

Williams also famously played Harvey Dent in Tim Burton’s Batman (1989). Other major roles include 1996’s Undercover Brother and 2006’s Fanboys.

Beyond acting, Williams took an active role supporting key social justice causes as a high-profile public figure. Known for his activism, he supported:

  • Dr. Martin Luther King in the 1960s civil rights movement
  • Jesse Jackson’s presidential campaigns in the 1980s
  • Barrack Obama’s 2008 presidential run

A lifelong artist with varied passions, the charismatic Williams was also an accomplished painter whose work has shown across prestigious galleries.

Billy Dee Williams Married Three Times Before Finding Lasting Love with Teruko

Prior to connecting deeply with Teruko Nakagami later in life, Billy Dee Williams had a storied romantic history often centered around high-profile celebrity partnerships.

His earlier marriages included:

  • Audrey Sellers (1968 to 1971) – an actress and dancer
  • Marlene Clark (1973 to 1976) – an actress and fashion model
  • Dihann Carroll (1977 to 1982) – a famous singer and stage performer

Williams was even romantically linked at times with other legends like:

  • Diana Ross
  • Gladys Knight
  • Vicki Lawrence

As Williams himself stated, “The marriages didn’t work out. It had nothing to do with anybody but me.” Now 84 years old and having celebrated over 20 years of marriage with Teruko Nakagami, it seems he finally found a partner to give him lasting stability.

But who exactly is Teruko Nakagami, and how did she and Williams cross paths?

Teruko Nakagami’s Early Life

Teruko Nakagami’s Early Life

Unlike Williams’ storied ascent in show business, little is publicly known about Teruko Nakagami’s early years. But piecing together available sources indicates:

  • Nakagami grew up in a middle class family in Tokyo, Japan
  • From a young age, Teruko had an independent spirit and passion for fashion design
  • She honed her craft at the prestigious Bunka Fashion Institute in Tokyo

As a young woman striking out on her own, Nakagami took the bold step of moving to Los Angeles in the late 1980s. Known as an inspired artist devoted to her craft, she built a career working:

  • First as a showroom assistant in the LA fashion world
  • Later running her own nascent clothing label

Though Hollywood was never her ambition, through fate or coincidence Teruko Nakagami’s path crossed with one of the industry’s most revered Black actors at a mutual friend’s party in 1998. Despite coming from vastly different worlds, their connection was immediate and profound.

How Teruko Nakagami and Billy Dee Williams Met and Connected

The story of how Billy Dee Williams and Teruko Nakagami first met adds to the unlikely nature of their romance. As Williams tells it:

  • They met in 1998 at an LA party held by a shared friend
  • Despite being nearly 30 years Billy Dee’s junior, Teruko was drawn in by Williams’ “gentleness, intelligence, and wit”
  • And for his part, Williams found Nakagami radically different from past partners – saying she was “so different I couldn’t resist”

The couple dated for two years before deciding to marry in 2000. But what drew this humble Japanese artist together with an African American acting legend known for his trailblazing roles portraying Black culture?

Though from Different Cultures, Teruko Connected with Billy Dee Over Shared Values and Outlooks

Teruko Nakagami and Billy Dee Williams made an unlikely pair from completely different ethnic and cultural communities. Yet their core values and spiritual outlooks synced perfectly despite external differences.

As Williams stated himself:

“I found something so different I couldn’t resist.”

Specifically, the couple bonded over:

  • A shared humanitarian outlook and focus on family
  • Spirituality, mindfulness and living purposefully
  • Discomfort with flashy fame or fortune

Rather than red carpet appearances, both preferred quiet authenticity – valuing faith, creativity, and social responsibility above all. For both Nakagami and Williams, their grounding principles and priorities aligned across their ethnic divide.

Billy Dee Williams’ Children and Family Life

Family has always been central to Williams’ identity and purpose. Likely stemming from growing up without knowing his musician father, Williams has emphasized family as his driving motivation.

Billy Dee Williams has three children from past relationships:

  • A son, Corey with second wife Marlene Clark
  • A son, Elijah, and daughter, Hanako, with wife Teruko Nakagami

Though fiercely protective of his kids’ privacy, Williams expresses immense pride in his children as they advance their careers. 

His son Corey found success as a musician like his grandfather. And Williams’ children with Teruko, Elijah and Hanako, work in creative fields capturing their parents’ artistic passions.

For Williams, whose own childhood lacked stability, providing that grounding experience for his children drives his devotion as a family man. And in Teruko Nakagami, he found a partner who shares that central life priority.

After Failed Celebrity Marriages, Billy Dee Williams Finds Lasting Love with Teruko

So why has Billy Dee Williams’ fourth marriage to Teruko Nakagami stood the test of time when past relationships with famous partners crumbled?

In Teruko, Williams found a partner defined by:

  • Simplicity – despite his fame, luxury doesn’t impress her
  • Authenticity – she values their private love over public persona
  • Understanding – her calm, spiritual nature balances his intensity
  • Family – like Williams, Nakagami centers family above all

Now in his mid-80s and facing health issues in recent years, Williams relies on his wife Teruko extensively for support. 

Far from the flash of Williams’ past failed celebrity unions, Teruko grounds him with her graceful simplicity and mindfulness.

Where is Teruko Nakagami Now?

Teruko Nakagami continues to avoid any public spotlight, maintaining her privacy even as she remains devoted to Williams. While information is scarce, it’s believed:

  • She continues working in fashion, likely designing clothes herself
  • Teruko practices eastern spiritual traditions like meditation
  • Caring for her family and Billy Dee remains Nakagami’s central priority

Now well into her 50s, Teruko guards her private life outside what fame her iconic husband’s extensive career confers by association. 

One thing is certain – she continues supporting Williams steadfastly as his wife, life partner, caregiver and closest confidante through whatever new chapters emerge in their unlikely love story.


The marriage between Teruko Nakagami and Billy Dee Williams reveals an unlikely but enduring love story. Despite drastically different backgrounds, this humble Japanese-American fashion designer and philanthropist found an unbreakable bond with one of Hollywood’s most celebrated Black actors.

Where past relationships with entertainment world stars crumbled under bright spotlight glare, Nakagami won Williams over with her graceful simplicity and shared principles. After 20 years together, Teruko remains dedicated to her family with Williams – quietly keeping his feet firmly planted on the ground when not leaping into imaginative worlds on the big screen.

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