But then a reporter who had "discovered" the "man with the velvet voice" and made a video of Williams demonstrating his golden pipes put the video online. It's lured more than 13 million hits. On Wednesday, Williams sat down for an exclusive interview on "The Early Show."
The rest, as they say, is history.
Williams, 53, has been flooded with job offers, voiced ads for Kraft Mac & Cheese, and been reunited with his mother, Julia Williams, 90, of Brooklyn -- whom he hadn't seen in ten years - as well as several of what he says are nine children he fathered.
But a checkered past has come to light, as well - including drug and alcohol addictions he says he's kicked, and a criminal record -- raising concern that his sudden stardom and what may well be a lucrative future could lead him "off the wagon."
"This overnight stardom, for anyone, even somebody who had a completely perfectly clean past, could be an issue," observed "Early Show on Saturday Morning" co-anchor Rebecca Jarvis.
"Absolutely," agreed "Early Show" contributor Dr. Jennifer Hartstein, a psychologist. "Look at all these reality television stars we watch all the time and their lives unfold in front of us, too, and then they go down these paths (on which) they don't know what to do with their fame. And here's someone who does have a troubled past. So, we really need to hope and pray that he continues to take this second chance and … use that for the good and really turn his life around and keep it that way."
People from Williams' past are going to start coming out of the woodwork now, Jarvis predicted.
"That," says Hartstein, "is where he really needs to figure out who his inner-circle needs to be. Who's going to be his adviser? Maybe someone who's done this before. Maybe a clergyman, somebody who can really say to him, 'Look, you need to protect yourself.' Because here he is talking out loud about the money he's making and the commercials he's offered, all of this great stuff. People are gonna come sliding out from places he never even knew they were (in). (He needs) someone who's gonna be like the front gate, you've gotta get through the front gate before you can get to Ted Williams.
" … We don't know really know who he surrounds himself with," she says, "but I would say he's gonna have to do a really strong and significant inventory of who is in his life, who he wants to keep, and slowly start to weigh the checks and balances of those people and figure out who he wants to keep around."
Finding what Hartstein says is "probably the biggest balance" -- between his public persona and private sides -- is key, she says. "Look at all of the famous people we talk about on this show all the time who are really having that struggle, and they may he been in it since they were children, and now they're adults. Here, overnight, life changed (for Williams). He's going to have a very hard time remembering who he is, what are his core values, and how does he put those into play in his life every day? This again goes back to who - hopefully, this relationship with his mom will help give him some stability, and she's gonna help keep him on track. She looks like she wants to help him succeed. And she's got him on a short leash. She may be the person everybody has to get through while she's around. She may be his first line of defense. Check in with Mom, and what does she say."
Hartstein added that, "Two years is a fabulous amount of time to have under your belt (off drugs and alcohol, as Williams claims he's been), it's really great, especially considering how he's been living. But, really, now he's going to be faced with such temptation in his face. There's gonna be all these opportunities for parties and the money and he's not really going to know what to do. So he has to stay connected to his sober support network He has to get himself to AA (Alcoholics Anonymous) meetings if that's what he is doing. He has to reach out to those people who will help keep him sober, because the second he loses his sobriety, he's gonna fall back off-track, and then we'll be talking about the bad news, not this fabulous redemption, second-chance story."
To see Ted and Julia Willliams interviewed on "The Early Show" by co-anchors Chris Wragge and Erica Hill Friday, click below:
To watch the Williams' emotional mother-and-child reunion, click on the video player below:
Doral Chenoweth, the Columbus Dispatch reporter who discovered Ted Williams on the side of the road in Ohio, also spoke with Wragge and Hill Friday:
More "Early Show" videos, of interviews of Julia on Thursday and Ted on Wednesday: