Willis was a career criminal and the co-conspirator and mastermind of a robbery of $1,000,000 in diamonds from a Honolulu bank in the three sixth season episodes of Sanford and Son titled The Hawaiian Connection. In the three episodes, Willis, along with co-conspirator and chief mastermind Davis (Sheldon Leonard), accompanied by pretty red-headed moll Gladys (Barbara Rhoades) conspire to dupe the Sanfords into smuggling diamonds off of the island by sending a mock invitation to a fake Junkman's convention, sending them to plane tickets to the island. Willis is played by veteran TV actor Greg Morris, who is well known to TV viewing audiences as Barney Collier on the 1966-1973 CBS-TV series Mission: Impossible.
Willis, who grew up in the Watts neighborhood where the Sanfords live, and is well accquainted with them; when questioned by Davis about the possibility of Fred being the perfect stooge in their devious diamond smuggling plot, Willis sarcastically says "His name is Fred G. Sanford...The "G" stands for "Goonybird!""