The legendary crooner is gone:
Andy Williams, the silky-voiced, clean-cut crooner, whose hit recording “Moon River” and years of popular Christmas TV shows brought him fans the world over has died, his publicist said. He was 84.
Williams died Tuesday night at his home in Branson following a yearlong battle with bladder cancer, his Los Angeles-based publicist, Paul Shefrin, said Wednesday.
With an easy style and a mellow voice that President Ronald Reagan once termed “a national treasure,” Williams proved ideal for television. “The Andy Williams Show,” which lasted in various formats from 1957 to 1971, featured Williams alternately performing his stable of easy-listening ballads and bantering casually with his guest stars. He received 18 gold and three platinum albums over his long career and was nominated for five Grammy awards. He released an autobiography in 2009, “Moon River and Me: A Memoir.”
It was on that show that Williams — who launched his own career as part of an all-brother quartet — introduced the world to the original four singing Osmond Brothers of Utah. Their younger sibling Donny also made his debut on Williams’ show, in 1963 when he was 6 years old.
As for his most famous hit, “Moon River,” he had this to say in 1989:
“You wouldn’t believe how ‘Moon River’ became a hit,” he said in a 1989 interview with the Chicago Tribune. “I was having dinner with [songwriters] Henry Mancini and Johnny Mercer, who had just finished recording the movie ‘Breakfast at Tiffany’s,’ with Audrey Hepburn singing ‘Moon River’ out on the balcony with a guitar.
“So Mancini and Mercer played this song for me, which I thought was great. But my record company was really into singles then, and they said: ‘I don’t think phrases like ‘my Huckleberry friend’ will make it with the kids — they won’t know what it means.’”
But about four weeks before the 1962 Academy Awards program, he recalled, “I was invited to sing ‘Moon River’ on the Oscars show, and Columbia Records decided we ought to rush a ‘Moon River’ album into the stores, because that tune looked like a shoo-in for the ‘best song’ Oscar.
“So they quickly put out an album, had it in the stores on the day of the Oscars, and the next morning it sold 500,000 copies.”
A classic performance, below, from 1962.