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In the Spotlight: Andy Williams


In the Spotlight: Andy Williams

Andy Williams in the early '60s



Howard Andrew Williams, December 3, 1928 in Wall Lake, IA; died September 25, 2012 in Branson, MO


Claims to Fame:

  • Television's best-loved crooner from the '60s through the '80s
  • Known as "The King of Christmas" for his annual holiday specials and albums
  • An important benchmark of pre-rock culture during America's most culturally turbulent years
  • An effortlessly smooth and natural crooner celebrated for his warm and friendly style
  • Popularized the song "Moon River" and made it his signature song
  • Hosted his own wildly successful variety show for many years
  • His theater is one of the major cornerstones of the Branson, Missouri entertainment strip

Early Years:

Andy's career began as part of a child quartet -- specifically, the Williams Brothers, who were trained by their father, Jay, the choirmaster at their local Presbyterian church. Eventually, they attracted the notice of Des Moines station WHO, and soon graduated to regional success in Chicago and Cincinnati before Jay took them to Hollywood. By the time Andy was 17, they were under contract to MGM, providing male backup for several musicals while Andy alone often backed up the voice's of the studio's hottest stars. Their first big success came in 1944, when they appeared on Bing Crosby's hit "Swinging on a Star." By 1947, the brothers were on a national tour with big-band singer Kay Thompson.


Andy lit out for a solo career in 1953, recording on RCA with little success. The following year, however, he impressed Tonight Show host Steve Allen enough to land a regular spot; audiences loved his warm and soothing demeanor and effortless vocals, and Cadence Records in New York, later home to the Everly Brothers, picked him up. The rock and roll craze should have ended Williams' career soon after, but it ironically boosted it -- audiences, especially older ones, were eager for "adult" entertainment and a return to postwar pop, and Andy was there for them. In 1962, he was asked to perform the Best Song nominee "Moon River" at the Oscars, and it quickly became associated with him. The following year he began his consistently popular variety show on NBC, which featured a few sung bars of "Moon River" as its theme. Though he only scored a few pop hits in the '50s and '60s, he sold more albums than almost any other singer. His 1963 album Days of Wine and Roses, for example, sat at #1 for four straight months.

Later Years:

Though his show was canceled in 1971, Williams remained extremely popular, especially for his series of annual Christmas specials, which featured a holiday song he'd also made his own, "It's The Most Wonderful Time of the Year." Through the '80s, he continued to be a fixture at NBC, and when that fizzled out, friend Ray Stevens invited him to open a theater in the Ozark town of Branson, Missouri. It was a major success, drawing thousands to the music resort and helping to establish it as an entertainment capitol. Williams continued to perform there and occasionally record up until July 2012, when doctors informed him his bladder cancer was incurable. Andy succumbed to the disease a few months later.

Andy Williams Awards and Honors:

  • Emmy Awards (1963, 1966, 1967)
  • Hollywood Walk of Fame (6667 Hollywood Blvd.)

Andy Williams Facts and Trivia:

  • Known as the "Emperor of Easy" in the UK
  • Helped discover the Osmonds and Jimmy Buffett
  • Was the first live telecast host of the Grammy Awards
  • The first performer to headline Caesar's Palace in Vegas
  • Sung at the Super Bowl, the Olympics, the Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade, and the funeral of friend Sen. Robert Kennedy
  • Defended John Lennon's right to not be deported, as well as ex-wife Claudine Longet in the murder trial of her second husband
  • One of the most famous celebrity golfers, the PGA tournament which once bore his name has been played since 1968
  • Andy's recording of the song "Aquarius" was played on the moon by Neil Armstrong

Andy Williams Hit Songs and Albums:

#1 hits
  • "Butterfly" (1957)
Adult Contemporary:
  • "Can't Get Used To Losing You" (1963)
  • "In The Arms Of Love" (1966)
  • "Happy Heart" (1969)
  • "(Where Do I Begin) Love Story" (1971)
Top 10 hits
  • "Canadian Sunset" (1956)
  • "I Like Your Kind Of Love" (1957)
  • "Are You Sincere" (1958)
  • "Are You Sincere" (1958)
  • "Lonely Street" (1959)
  • "The Village Of St. Bernadette"
  • (1960)
  • "Can't Get Used To Losing You" (1963)
  • "(Where Do I Begin) Love Story" (1971)
  • "Can't Get Used To Losing You" (1963)
Adult Contemporary:
  • "Hopeless" (1963)
  • "On the Street Where You Live" (1964)
  • "A Fool Never Learns" (1964)
  • "Dear Heart" (1965)
  • "And Roses and Roses" (1965)
  • "Music to Watch Girls By" (1967)
  • "More And More" (1967)
  • "Sweet Memories" (1968)
  • "Holly" (1968)
  • "A Woman's Way" (1969)
  • "One Day Of Your Life" (1970)
  • "Love Theme From "The Godfather" (Speak Softly Love)" (1972)
#1 albums
  • Days of Wine and Roses and Other TV Requests (1963)
Top 10 albums
  • Moon River and Other Great Movie Themes (1962)
  • The Wonderful World of Andy Williams (1964)
  • The Academy Award-Winning "Call Me Irresponsible" and Other Hit Songs from the Movies (1964)
  • The Great Songs from "My Fair Lady" and Other Broadway Hits (1964)
  • Andy Williams' Dear Heart (1965)
  • Merry Christmas (1965)
  • The Shadow of Your Smile (1966)
  • Born Free (1967)
  • Love, Andy (1967)
  • Honey (1968)
  • Happy Heart (1969)
  • Love Story (1971)

Other Notable Andy Williams Recordings:

"Born Free," "Love Theme from Romeo and Juliet (A Time for Us)," "We've Only Just Begun," "It's the Most Wonderful Time of the Year," "A Song for You," "Can't Help Falling in Love," "Battle Hymn of the Republic," "Ain't It True," "Do You Hear What I Hear?," "Quiet Nights of Quiet Stars," "Almost There," "Charade," "Wrong for Each Other," "Days of Wine and Roses," "White Christmas," "Don't You Believe It," "Stranger on the Shore," "The Wonderful World of the Young," "Twilight Time," "Danny Boy," "Fly By Night," "The Bilbao Song," "You Don't Want My Love," "Do You Mind?," "Wake Me When It's Over," "The Hawaiian Wedding Song (Ke Kali Nei Au)," "Promise Me, Love," "Lips of Wine," "Baby Doll," "Walk Hand in Hand," "MacArthur Park," "Home Lovin' Man," "Solitaire," "Getting Over You," "Remember," "Love's Theme," "Another Lonely Song," "You Lay So Easy on My Mind," "Love Said Goodbye," "Cry Softly," "Sad Eyes," "The Other Side of Me"

Movie and TV appearances (movies in italics): Janie (1944), Kansas City Kitty (1944), Ladies' Man (1947), "The Steve Allen Show" (1957), "American Bandstand" (1957, 1960), "The Dick Clark Show" (1958), "The Chevy Showroom" (1958, 1959, 1960), "This is Your Life" (1959), "Person to Person" (1960), "The Jack Paar Tonight Show" (1961), "The Dick Powell Theatre" (1962), "The Merv Griffin Show" (1962, 1974), "What's My Line?" (1963), "The Joey Bishop Show" (1964, 1968), "The Jack Benny Program" (1964), I'd Rather Be Rich (1964), "The Smothers Brothers Comedy Hour" (1968), "Rowan and Martin's Laugh-In" (1970), "The David Frost Show" (1970), "The Sonny and Cher Comedy Hour" (1972), "The Tonight Show Starring Johnny Carson" (1972, 1981), "Dinah!" (1975), "Top of the Pops" (1976), "Donny and Marie" (1976), "America 2-Night" (1978), "Good Morning America" (1978), "The Mike Douglas Show" (1978), "The Muppet Show" (1980), "Late Show with David Letterman" (1993), "The Larry Sanders Show" (1998), "Larry King Live" (2004), "As the World Turns" (2007), "Later with Jools Holland" (2009)

Covered by: Elvis Presley, Jim Reeves, Freda Payne, Eydie Gorme, Tony Bennett, Shirley Bassey, Johnny Mathis, Placido Domingo, Perry Como, Robert Goulet, Englebert Humperdinck, Al Martino, Bobby Vinton, Petula Clark, Jack Jones, Vicki Carr, Jerry Vale, Jim Nabors, Roger Williams, Frank Sinatra, Matt Munro, Nancy Wilson, Connie Francis, Kate Smith, Jose Carreras, Buddy Greco, Ike and Tina Turner, Eddie Fisher, Harry Connick Jr., Scott Walker, The Lettermen, Paul Anka, The English Beat, Alton Ellis, Patti Page, Bobby Darin, Bobby Vee, Skeeter Davis, Julie London, Chad and Jeremy, Renegade Soundwave, Don Ho, Marty Robbins, Pat Boone, Vic Damone, The Andrews Sisters, Brook Benton, Yellowman, The Four Aces

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