Born in Ottawa, Illinois, Walt Willey attended Southern Illinois University, where he majored in Fine Arts. It was during his time at college that he became involved in acting, performing major roles in several productions. In 1981, Walt left Illinois for New York to break into acting professionally.
After numerous Off-Broadway productions, including Dust Off with Dan Lauria, and stints on NBC's Another World as "James La Russo", and "Joe Novak" on ABC'sRyan's Hope,
Walt joined the cast of ABC's All My Children in 1987 - playing the role of lawyer "Jackson Montgomery” - until the show’s demise in 2011.
Walt branched out into stand-up comedy in 1990 entertaining across the country, headlining at such famous comedy clubs as Caroline's in New York, Zanies in Chicago, and the Comedy Store in California. He continues to tour nationally, and friend and fellow comic, The View's Joy Behar, proposed him for membership into the famous Friars Club. Walt joined the likes of Milton Berle, Sid Caesar, and Billy Crystal when he was inducted into this prestigious entertainment fraternity in January 2001.
In 2006, Walt raised many eyebrows with the release of Wild and Willey, his first comedy DVD. For those who have known him from his portrayal of “Jackson Montgomery” and his on-air hosting stints, this DVD was a bit of a shock. Walt invokes both of his major influences, Richard Pryor and Robin Williams, with his take on life, love, sex, kids, and celebrity.
Walt co-hosted The 20th Annual Daytime Emmy Awards, with Susan Lucci. He also co-hosted the 1992 Ford Supermodel of the World with Beverly Johnson, and again in 1993 with Rachel Hunter. Willey was co-host of ABC's coverage of the Tournament of Roses Paradein 1994, 1995, and again in 1997. Walt also hosted Disney's A Magical Time in a Magical Place.
At Disney’s Super Soap Weekend, Walt has hosted the “Talk Show”, “Street Jam”, the game show “Super Soap Spin” and was the only person besides his friend Meredith Veira, to be allowed to host the on-property “Who Wants To Be A Millionaire-Play It!”
A published satirist and cartoonist, Walt has been a regular columnist and cartoonist for Soap Opera Update and Soap Opera Weekly. His lithograph, "Soaperman", hangs in Chicago's Underground Comics Hall of Fame, and his collection of drawings, The Arthurian Legend: A Re-Telling of the Christ Myth garnered popular and critical raves during its gallery tour.
His other "Pop Culture Achievements", as he calls them, include appearing as himself, in comic-book form, in Valiant Comics' The Second Life of Dr. Mirage, Phil Hartman's portrayal of him on Saturday Night Live, and being a celebrity panelist on The Match Game and To Tell the Truth.
In 2009, Walt co-founded a regional community theatre in his hometown of Ottawa, Illinois where they have presented The Odd Couple, Arsenic and Old Lace, Plaza Suite, and Harvey, as well as original works of local historical significance. Guest artists have included: Jill Larson, Julia Barr, Taylor Miller, Kale Browne, and Vincent Irizarry..
Walt has been touring with the one-man show he authored, Wild Bill! An Evening with James Butler Hickok, often in conjunction with his Wild Bill! In-School Program for high schools.
Walt regularly hosts charity fundraisers, and developed the WilleyWorld Endowment Fund, benefiting children's charities.
When not working, Walt resides in Santa Fe, New Mexico, with his son, Chance, and daughter, Merit.