Andy Williams died aged eighty-four of bladder cancer on 25th September 2012 at his home in Branson, Missouri, U.S.A. He was cremated and his ashes were sprinkled into an artificial waterway at his theater in Branson. The memorial service for him was held one month later. In a surprise appearance at his theater in November 2011, Andy had announced that he had been diagnosed with bladder cancer. After chemotherapy treatment in Houston, Texas, he and his wife had moved to a rented home in Malibu, California in order to be closer to cancer specialists in the Los Angeles area, but to little avail.
Andy Williams was born in Wall Lake, Iowa, the son of Jay and Florence Williams. While living in Cheviot, Ohio, Andy Williams attended Western Hills High School in Cincinnati, Ohio. He finished high school at University High School, in West Los Angeles, because of his family's move to California.
Andy Williams had three older brothers—Bob, Don, and Dick Williams. His first performance was in a children's choir at the local Presbyterian church. He and his brothers formed the Williams Brothers quartet in late 1938, and they performed on radio in the Midwest, first at WHO, in Des Moines, Iowa, and later at WLS, in Chicago, and WLW, in Cincinnati.
Moving to Los Angeles in 1943, the Williams Brothers sang with Bing Crosby on his 1944 hit record "Swinging on a Star". They appeared in four musical films: Janie in 1944, Kansas City Kitty in1944, Something in the Wind in 1947 and Ladies' Man in 1947.
A persistent myth is that as a teenager the future singing star dubbed the singing for Lauren Bacall in the 1944 feature film To Have and Have Not. According to authoritative sources, including Howard Hawks and Bacall herself, this was not true. Andy Williams and some female singers were tested to dub for Bacall, because of fears that she lacked the necessary vocal skills. But those fears were overshadowed by the desire to have Bacall do her own singing despite her imperfect vocal talent.
The Williams Brothers were signed by Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer to appear in Anchors Aweigh and Ziegfeld Follies in 1945 but, before they went before the cameras, the oldest brother, Bob, was drafted into military service and the group's contract was cancelled. Kay Thompson, a former radio star who was now head of the vocal department at MGM, had a nose for talent and hired the remaining three Williams brothers to sing in her large choir on many soundtracks for MGM films, including The Harvey Girls in 1946. When Bob completed his military service, Kay hired all four brothers to sing on the soundtrack to Good News in 1947.
By then, Kay Thompson was tired of working behind the scenes at MGM so, with the four Williams boys as her backup singers and dancers, she formed a nightclub act, Kay Thompson and the Williams Brothers. They made their debut in Las Vegas in 1947 and became an overnight sensation. Within a year, they were the highest paid nightclub act in the world, breaking records wherever they appeared.
Andy Williams revealed in his memoir, Moon River and Me, that he and Thompson became romantically involved while on tour, despite the age difference (he was 19 and she was 38). The act broke up in 1949 but reunited for another hugely successful tour from the fall of 1951 through the summer of 1953. After that, the four brothers went their separate ways. A complete itinerary of both tours is listed on the Kay Thompson biography website.
Andy Williams and Thompson, however, remained very close, both personally and professionally. She mentored his emergence as a solo singing star. She coached him, wrote his arrangements, and composed many songs that he recorded, including his 1958 Top 20 hit "Promise Me, Love" and, later, "Kay Thompson's Jingle Bells" on his 1964 number one The Andy Andy Williams Christmas Album. Using her contacts in the business, Kay Thompson helped Andy Williams land his breakthrough television gig as a featured singer for two and a half years on Tonight Starring Steve Allen; it helped that the producer of the series, Bill Harbach, was Kay's former aide de camp. Kay Thompson also got Andy Williams his breakthrough recording contract with Cadence Records, whose owner, Archie Bleyer, had gotten early career breaks because of Kay and owed her a favor. Meanwhile, Andy Williams sang backup on many of Thompson's recordings through the 1950s, including her Top 40 hit Eloise, based on her bestselling books about the mischievous little girl who lives at the Plaza Hotel in New York.
Kay Thompson also served as a creative consultant and vocal arranger on Andy Williams's three summer replacement network television series in 1957, 1958, and 1959. In the summer of 1961, Kay Thompson travelled with Andy Williams and coached him throughout his starring role in a summer stock tour of the musical Pal Joey. Their personal and professional relationship finally ended in 1962, when Andy Williams met and married Claudine Longet, and Kay Thompson moved to Rome.
Andy Williams's solo career began in 1953. He recorded six sides for RCA Victor's label "X", but none of them were popular hits.
After landing a spot as a regular on Tonight Starring Steve Allen in 1954, Andy Williams was signed to a recording contract with Cadence Records, a small label in New York, run by conductor Archie Bleyer. Andy Williams's third single, "Canadian Sunset", reached number seven in the Top Ten in August 1956; it was followed in February 1957 by his only Billboard number 1 hit, "Butterfly", a cover of a Charlie Gracie record. "Butterfly" was also number 1 for two weeks on the UK Singles Chart in May 1957. More hit records followed, including "The Hawaiian Wedding Song", "Are You Sincere?", "The Village of St. Bernadette", "Lonely Street", and "I Like Your Kind of Love" with Peggy Powers.
In 1961, Andy Williams married Claudine Longet, moved to Los Angeles, California, and signed with Columbia Records. His first album with Columbia, Danny Boy and Other Songs I Love to Sing, was a chart success, peaking at number 19. He was then asked to sing "Moon River", the theme from Breakfast at Tiffany's, at the 1962 Academy Awards, where it won Best Original Song. Archie Bleyer at Cadence had previously told Andy Williams that "Moon River" would not be a hit, but the Columbia producers encouraged Andy to record the song along with eleven other movie themes for an album. After Andy Williams performed the song at the awards show, it became a hit. Moon River and Other Great Movie Themes then sold across the country, garnering critical acclaim and propelling Andy Williams into stardom. The album remained on the charts for the next three years and peaked at number 3. In 1963, Andy Williams's producer Robert Mersey encouraged him to record "Can't Get Used to Losing You" as the B Side to "Days of Wine and Roses". Andy Williams initially did not like the pop song, preferring the Mancini tune, but "Can't Get Used to Losing You" reached number 2 in the US and in the UK. The album containing both songs, Days of Wine and Roses and Other TV Requests, topped the album charts at number 1 for 16 weeks.
From 1962 to 1972, Andy Williams was one of the most popular vocalists in the U.S.A. and was signed to what was at that time the biggest recording contract in history. He was primarily an album artist, and at one time he had recorded more gold albums than any solo performer except Frank Sinatra, Johnny Mathis, and Elvis Presley. By 1973 he had earned as many as 17 gold-album awards. Among his hit albums from this period were The Andy Andy Williams Christmas Album, Dear Heart, The Shadow of Your Smile, Love, Andy, Happy Heart, Get Together with Andy Andy Williams, Love Story, and Love Theme from the Godfather. These recordings, along with his natural affinity for the music of the 1960s and early 1970s, combined to make him one of the premier easy listening singers of that era.
In the UK, Andy Williams continued to reach high chart status until 1978. The albums Dear Heart in 1965, Love Andy in 1967, Can't Help Falling in Love in 1970, Andy Andy Williams Show in 1970, Home Lovin' Man in 1971, Solitaire in 1973, The Way We Were in 1974 and Reflections in 1978 all reached the Top 10.
Andy Williams forged an indirect collaborative relationship with Henry Mancini, although they never recorded together. Both "Moon River" and "Days of Wine and Roses" were written by Mancini, with lyrics by Johnny Mercer. Andy Williams sang Mancini's "Dear Heart" at the 1965 Academy Awards and "The Sweetheart Tree" at the 1966 Awards.
On 5th August 1966, the 14-story, 700-room Caesars Palace casino and nightclub opened in Las Vegas, Nevada, with the stage production of "Rome Swings", in which Andy Williams starred. He performed to a sold-out crowd in the Circus Maximus showroom. He headlined for Caesars for the next twenty years.
On 17th September 1968, Columbia released a single of two songs Andy Williams sang at the funeral of Robert F. Kennedy, his close friend: "The Battle Hymn of the Republic" and Franz Schubert's Ave Maria". These were never released on a long-playing record but have appeared in several compilations of Andy Williams' output.
Andy Williams also competed in the teenage-oriented singles market and had several charting hits, including "Can't Get Used to Losing You", "Happy Heart", and "Where Do I Begin", the theme song from the 1970 blockbuster film Love Story. In addition, Andy Williams hit the Top 10 of the UK Singles Chart with "Almost There" in 1964, "Can't Help Falling in Love" in 1970, "Home Lovin' Man" in 1970 and "Solitaire" in 1973.
Andy Williams and Petula Clark recorded "Happy Heart" around the same time, just before his guest appearance on her second NBC-TV special. Unaware that she was releasing the song as a single, he asked to perform it on the show. The exposure ultimately led to his having the bigger hit with the song. The song "Happy Heart" was used for the final scene and end credits of Danny Boyle's award-winning directorial debut film, Shallow Grave in 1994.
Building on his experience with Allen and some short-term variety shows in the 1950s, Andy became the star of his own weekly television variety show in the fall of 1962. Though canceled after 1963 due to low ratings, the show was then sponsored to make 12 weekly specials in the 1963–1964 season. This series, The Andy Williams Show, won three Emmy Awards for outstanding variety program. Among his series regulars were the Osmond Brothers. He gave up the variety show in 1971 while it was still popular, continuing with three specials per year. His Christmas specials, which appeared regularly until 1974 and intermittently from 1982 into the 1990s, were among the most popular of the genre. Andy Williams recorded eight Christmas albums over the years and was known as "Mr. Christmas", due to his perennial Christmas specials and the success of "It's the Most Wonderful Time of the Year".
Andy Williams hosted the most Grammy telecasts—seven consecutive shows—from the 13th Annual Grammy Awards in 1971 through to the 19th Awards in 1977. He returned to television with a syndicated half-hour series in 1976–77.
In the early 1970s, when the Nixon Administration attempted to deport John Lennon, Andy Williams was an outspoken defender of the former Beatle's right to stay in the United States.
In June 1991, Andy Williams' brother Don invited him to the small Ozarks town of Branson, Missouri. Don Williams at the time was the manager for entertainer Ray Stevens, who had just opened a theatre in Branson. While attending Stevens' show, Andy Williams was encouraged by numerous Branson guests to open a venue in the town. This led Andy Williams to build his own theatre in Branson in time for the 1992 season, eventually opening on May 1, 1992 as the Moon River Theatre. The name came from his signature song. It went on to become the first theatre ever to be featured in Architectural Digest, and also won the 1992 Conservation Award from the State of Missouri.
The theatre was designed to blend with the rough terrain of the Ozark Mountains. He had originally planned a marble style theatre reminiscent of the Dorothy Chandler Pavilion in Los Angeles, but soon had a change of mind. The Larson Company of Tucson, Arizona, fabricated a section of rock on Missouri's Highway 76 and the theatre was soon engulfed with waterfalls, koi-filled ponds, ferns and trees native to the Ozarks. The inside of the theatre incorporates the outside. Trees and plants are seen throughout the theatre's three lobbies. Oak floors are accompanied by African ribbon-striped mahogany walls that are filled with pictures of the Andy Williams Television Show. Andy Williams' passion for art can be seen throughout as well. From the start of his career, Andy Williams had accumulated several paintings and sculptures and decided to fill his theatre with his collection. Frankenthaler, Diebenkorn, Oldenburg, Pollock, Klee and Moore are a small list of artists whose work is on display at the Moon River Theatre.
The theater's auditorium can accommodate 2,054 people. The seating is stadium-style for the best view. The seats and carpets match Andy Williams' Navajo rug collection and are forest green, magenta, gold and blue. On display inside the auditorium are nineteen Japanese Kimonos. The stage has accommodated numerous shows and guest celebrities. On stage, Andy Williams was joined by Glen Campbell, Ann-Margret, Petula Clark and Charo. The theater has also played host to Phyllis Diller, Pat Boone, The Osmond Family, Robert Goulet, Rich Little, Shari Lewis & Lamb Chop, David Copperfield, Pat Benatar and Broadway on Ice starring Nancy Kerrigan, Tara Lipinski and Rudy Galindo.
When it first opened, it was unique because his was the first non-country act to open in the then-mostly-country music town. It was said he was discouraged by many back home in California from making such a bold move, but that was what he wanted. Other non-country entertainers like Bobby Vinton, Tony Orlando, Wayne Newton and the Osmond Brothers soon followed.
Andy Williams and his theater were featured on three episodes of the soap opera As the World Turns in July 2007 where several characters went to Branson for a concert of "Gwen Munson" held in the Moon River Theatre. The Simpsons featured Andy Williams at his Moon River Theater in an episode titled "Bart on the Road". Nelson Muntz is an Andy Andy Williams fan, and in the episode he forces the gang to make a detour to Branson so he could see his idol. He is reduced to tears as Andy Williams performs "Moon River" during the second encore.
In 2007, Andy Williams opened the Moon River Grill adjacent to his theater in Branson. The restaurant is decorated in photos from the Andy Williams Television Show with stars including Diana Ross, Elton John and Sammy Davis, Jr. Art is center stage in the restaurant, with works by several artists including Andy Warhol and Robert Indiana.
His 1967 recording of "Music to Watch Girls By" became a big UK hit to a new young television audience in 1999, when it reached number 9 after being featured in new television advertisements for the Fiat Punto—and later for Diet Pepsi—beating the original peak of number 33 in 1967. A new generation was reminded of Andy Williams' recordings and a sell-out UK tour followed the success of the single, prompting a British Revival for Andy Williams.
In 2002, he re-recorded "Can't Take My Eyes Off You" as a duet with British actress and singer Denise van Outen; it reached number 23 in the UK singles charts.
Andy completed a sold-out tour of the United Kingdom and Asia in the winter and summer of 2007, in which he performed at several major concert halls including the Royal Albert Hall, singing, among other classics, Van Morrison's "Have I Told You Lately".
Andy Williams returned to the UK singles charts with his 1963 recording of "It's the Most Wonderful Time of the Year" in December 2007, thanks to an advertisement for Marks & Spencer, reaching number 21 in its first appearance in the British charts, also reaching number 108 on the EU Top 200. In 2008 he lip-synched the 45-year-old recording to welcome Santa at the end of the Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade.
On 3rd October 2009, Andy Williams appeared live on the BBC's Strictly Come Dancing in London, singing "Moon River" to promote the UK edition of The Very Best of Andy Andy Williams LP, which peaked at number 10 in the main pop chart.
In 1964, Andy Williams ultimately became the owner of the Cadence master tapes, which he occasionally licensed to Columbia, including not only his own recordings, but also those of his fellow Cadence-era labelmates: The Everly Brothers, Lenny Welch, The Chordettes, and Johnny Tillotson. In 1968, although he was still under contract with Columbia for his own recordings, Andy Williams formed a separate company called Barnaby Records to handle not only reissuing of the Cadence material, especially that of the Everly Brothers (one of the first Barnaby LPs was a double LP set of the Brothers' long out of print Cadence hits) but also new artists. Barnaby also had several Top 40 hits in the 1970s with novelty artist Ray Stevens (who had done a summer replacement show for Andy Williams in 1970), including number-one hits such as "Everything Is Beautiful" in 1970 and "The Streak" in 1974.
Also in 1970, Barnaby signed and released the first album by an unknown singer-songwriter named Jimmy Buffett produced by Travis Turk. Columbia was initially the distributor for Barnaby, but later distribution was handled first by MGM Records and then General Recorded Tape. Once Barnaby ceased operating as a working record company at the end of the 1970s, Andy Williams licensed the old Cadence material to various other labels after 1980.
Do you like this website? If so, then please copy and email the link:
http://www.rockapaedia.com to your friends and aquaintances. Thankyou.