Andy Williams—born Howard Andrew Williams in 1927—died yesterday at his home in Branson, Missouri. Williams was 84 and had been battling bladder cancer, which he announced he had on the stage of his Moon River Theater in 2011.
Williams opened that theater in Branson in 1992, and named it after the song that propelled him to fame in the early 1960s. At that time, Williams had just moved to New York City, making solo appearances at various clubs, as well as on Steve Allen's Tonight Show (here is Williams talking about that time). From there he got a record deal with Columbia; landed his own show, The Andy Williams Show, on NBC; and even performed "Moon River" at the Academy Awards in 1962, at Henry Mancini's prompting.
Throughout his career, he took home 17 gold and 3 platinum records. He sang at the funeral of Robert F. Kennedy (a close friend, even though Williams was a lifelong Republican), and in 1968, Columbia released those two songs: "Ave Maria" and "The Battle Hymn of the Republic." And of course, Williams was the favorite crooner of one Nelson Muntz, as David Itzkoff recalls.
Williams eventually began splitting his time between California and Missouri, where he was at the time of his death. He is survived by his second wife Debbie Williams, and three children. Here are some other hits from Williams that you may recongnize:
And with Tony Bennett:
And WITH KERMIT!: