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Howard Andrew "Andy" Williams (born December 3, 1927) is an American pop singer. Andy Williams has recorded 18 gold and three platinum certified albums. When Ronald Reagan was president, he declared Andy's voice to be "a national treasure". He had his own popular TV variety show from 1962–71. He also owns his own theater, the Moon River Theatre in Branson, Missourimarker.

Early life and career

Williams was born in Wall Lake, Iowamarker, the son of Jay Emerson and Florence (née Finley) Williams. He first performed in a children's choir at the local Presbyterian church. Williams and his three older brothers Bob, Don, and Dick formed the Williams Brothers quartet in the late 1930s, and they performed on radio in the Midwest, first at WHO in Des Moines, Iowamarker, and later at WLSmarker in Chicagomarker and WLWmarker in Cincinnatimarker. Williams graduated from Western Hills High School in Cincinnati. The Williams Brothers appeared with Bing Crosby on the hit record "Swinging on a Star" (1944). This led to a nightclub act with entertainer Kay Thompson from 1947 to 1951.

Solo career

Williams' solo career began in 1952 after his brothers left the act. He recorded six sides for RCA Victor's label "X," but none of them were popular hits.

After finally landing a spot as a regular on Steve Allen's Tonight Show in 1955, he was signed to a recording contract with Cadence Records, a small label in New Yorkmarker run by conductor Archie Bleyer. His third single, "Canadian Sunset" (1956) hit the Top Ten, and was soon followed by his only Billboard #1 hit, "Butterfly" (a cover of a Charlie Gracie record on which Williams imitated Elvis Presley). More hits followed, including "The Hawaiian Wedding Song" (U.S. #11), "Are You Sincere" (U.S. #3), "The Village of St. Bernadette" (U.S. #7), "Lonely Street" (U.S. #5), and "I Like Your Kind Of Love" (U.S. #8) before Williams moved to Columbia Records in 1961, having moved from New York to Los Angeles and gaining another hit with "Can't Get Used to Losing You" (U.S. #2). In terms of chart popularity, the Cadence era was Williams' peak although songs he introduced on Columbia became much bigger standards. Two top ten hits from the Cadence era, "Butterfly" and "I Like Your Kind of Love" were apparently believed to not suit Williams' later style; they were not included on a Columbia reissue of his Cadence greatest hits in the 1960s.

In 1964, Williams ultimately became the owner of the Cadence master tapes, which he occasionally licensed to Columbia, including not only his own recordings, but 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, Williams formed a separate company called Barnaby Records not only to handle 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 new artists as well. Barnaby also had several Top 40 hits in the 70s with novelty artist Ray Stevens (who had done a summer replacement show for Williams in 1970), including Top 10s 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 ("Jimmy Buffett Down to Earth") produced by Travis Turk. Columbia initially was the distributor for Barnaby, but later distribution was handled first by MGM Records and then GRT. Once Barnaby ceased operating as a working record company at the end of the 1970s, Williams licensed the old Cadence material to various other labels (such as Varese & Rhino in the U.S.) after 1980.

During the 1960s, Williams became one of the most popular vocalists in the country 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 earned more gold albums than any solo performer except Frank Sinatra, Johnny Mathis and Elvis Presley. By 1973 he had earned as many as 18 gold album awards. Among his hit albums from this period were Moon River, Days of Wine and Roses (number one for 16 weeks in mid-1963), The Andy Williams Christmas Album, Dear Heart, The Shadow of Your Smile, Love, Andy, Get Together with Andy Williams, and Love Story. 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, Williams continued to reach high chart status until 1978. The albums Can't Help Falling In Love (1970), Andy Williams Show (1970) Home Lovin Man ( #1 1971), Solitaire (1973), The Way We Were (1974) and Reflections (1978) all reached the Top 10.

Williams forged an indirect collaborative relationship with Henry Mancini, although they never recorded together. Williams was asked to sing Mancini and Johnny Mercer's song "Moon River" at the 1962 Oscar Awards (where it won), and it quickly became Williams' theme song. ("Moon River" was never a chart hit for Williams). The next year Williams sang "Days of Wine and Roses" which was written by Mancini and Mercer (this song also won). Two years later, he sang Mancini's "Dear Heart" at the 1965 awards and "The Sweetheart Tree" (also written with Mercer) at the 1966 awards.

On August 5, 1966, the 14-story, 700 room Caesars Palacemarker casino and nightclub opened in Las Vegasmarker, Nevadamarker with the stage production of "Rome Swings", in which Williams starred. He performed live to a sold out crowd in the Circus Maximus showroom. He headlined for Caesars for the next twenty years.

In 1968, Columbia released a 45-rpm record of two songs Williams sang at the funeral of Robert F. Kennedy, a close friend: "Ave Maria" and "The Battle Hymn of the Republic". These were never released on a long-playing record.

Williams also competed in the teenage-oriented single market as well 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 Williams hit the Top 10 of the UK Singles Chart with, "Almost There" (1965), "Can't Help Falling In Love" (1970), "Home Lovin' Man" (1970) and "Solitaire" (1973).

Both Williams and Petula Clark recorded "Happy Heart" at the same time, just prior to his guest appearance on her second NBC-TV special. Unaware that she, too, 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 tune. The song "Happy Heart" is played during the final scene, and throughout the end credits, of the Danny Boyle film Shallow Grave .

Building on his experience with Allen and some short-term variety shows in the 1950s, he became the star of his own weekly television variety show in 1962. 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 and retrenched to three special 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. Williams has recorded eight Christmas albums over the years and has been penned as Mr. Christmas.

Williams hosted the most Grammy telecasts, from the 13th Annual Grammy Awards in 1971 through the 19th Annual Grammy Awards in 1977, totaling seven consecutive shows. He returned to television to do 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 Beatle's right to stay in the United States.

A caricature of Andy Williams is included in the montage of caricatures displayed on the cover of Ringo Starr's 1973 album, "Ringo".

Williams also sang the national anthem at Super Bowl VII in 1973 with Little Angels of Holy Angels Church in Chicago, Illinoismarker

National tour success

His 1967 recording of "Music to Watch Girls By" became a huge surprise UK hit to a new young TV audience, in 1999, when it reached #9 after featuring in new TV ads for the Fiat Punto--and later for Diet Pepsi--beating the original peak of #33 in 1967. A new generation was reminded of Williams' recordings and a sell-out UK tour followed the success of the single, and he was given the nickname "The Emperor of Easy" in the UK.

In 2002 he sang "Can't Take My Eyes Off You" with British actress and singer Denise van Outen. Nearly everything Williams ever recorded has now been made available on CD through a series of compilations from 1997 to 2006.

He 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 Hallmarker, singing among other classics, Van Morrison's "Have I Told You Lately".

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 advert for Marks And Spencer, reaching number 21 in its first appearance in the British charts, also reaching #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 October 3 2009 Williams appeared live on the BBC's Strictly Come Dancing in London singing Moon River.

Moon River Theatre

In June 1991, Williams's brother Don invited him to the small Ozarks town of Branson, Missourimarker. Don Williams at the time was the manager for entertainer Ray Stevens, who had just opened a theatre in Branson. While attending Stevens's show, Williams was encouraged by numerous Branson guests to open a venue in the town. This led Williams to build his own theater in Branson starting in August 1991, eventually opening on May 1, 1992 as the Moon River Theatre. The name came from a song he made famous from the movie Breakfast at Tiffany's. It went on to become the first theater ever to be featured in Architectural Digest, and also won the 1992 Conservation Award from the State of Missourimarker..

The theater was designed to blend into the rough terrain of the Ozark Mountainsmarker. Reportedly when Williams was on his way to Big Cedar Lodge one day, he had noticed some rough rock outcroppings and said, "What about these? This could be the entrance." He had originally planned a marble style theater reminiscence of the Dorothy Chandler Pavilionmarker 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 theater was soon engulfed with waterfalls, koi filled ponds, ferns and trees native to the Ozarks. The inside of the theater incorporates the outside. Trees and plants are seen throughout the theater's three lobbies. Oak floors are accompanied by African ribbon striped mahogany walls that are filled with pictures of the Andy Williams Television Show. Williams's passion for art can be seen throughout as well. From the start of his career Williams had accumulated several paintings and sculptures and decided to fill his theater with his collection. Frankenthaler, Diebenkorn, Oldenburg, Pollock, Klee and Moore are a small list of artists the Moon River Theatre represents.

The theater's auditorium can accommodate 2,054 people. The seating is stadium style seating for the best view. The seats and carpets match Williams's 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 Williams has been 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. In November and December of each year he presents his annual Andy Williams Christmas Show at the theater.

When it first opened, Williams's act was unique because it 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.

Williams and his theater were featured on three episodes of the soap opera As the World Turns in July 2007. The Simpsons featured Williams at his Moon River Theatre in an episode titled "Bart on the Road." Nelson Muntz is an Andy Williams fan, and in the episode he forces the gang to make a detour to Branson so he could see his idol. The bully is reduced to tears as Williams performs "Moon River" during the second encore.

In the spring of 2007 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 Elton John, Sammy Davis Jr. and Diana Ross. Art is center stage in the restaurant, with works by several artists including Andy Warhol and Robert Indiana.

In 2007, Williams made several guest appearances in the CBS soap As the World Turns when a part of the cast (Gwen, Will, Cleo, Jade, Luke, Maddie and Noah) went to Branson for a concert of Gwen Munson held in the Moon River Theatre.

Personal life

Williams met French-born Claudine Longet when he pulled over to aid her on a Las Vegasmarker road. She was a dancer at the time at the Folies Bergèremarker. They married on December 15, 1961. The union produced three children, Noelle, Christian, and Robert within the next eight years.

After a lengthy separation, Williams and Longet divorced in 1975. In March 1976, however, when Longet was charged with fatally shooting her boyfriend, alpine ski racer Spider Sabich in Aspenmarker, Williams played a public role in the subsequent events, escorting her to and from the courtroom, testifying to her character at the trial, and providing legal assistance. Longet claimed the shooting was accidental, and eventually received 30 days in jail, which was served at her convenience. Shortly thereafter, Longet vacationed in Mexicomarker with her defense attorney Ron Austin, whom she married in June 1985. They continue to reside in the Aspenmarker area.

Andy Williams married a second time (May 3, 1991), to the former Debbie Meyer, whom he met through a mutual friend. They make their homes at Branson, Missourimarker and La Quinta, Californiamarker. Williams' homes have been featured in Architectural Digest, and he is a noted collector of modern art. Williams is an avid golfer, and hosted the PGA Tour golf tournament in San Diegomarker from 1968-88 at Torrey Pinesmarker. Then known as the "Andy Williams San Diego Open", the tournament continues as the Buick Invitational, usually played in February.

Williams' birthplace in Iowa is a tourist attraction, and is open most of the year.Williams is a devout Christian.


Williams calls himself a lifetime Republican.

Williams was close friends with Robert F. Kennedy and Ethel Kennedy, campaigning for Kennedy '68 for President. Williams was present at the Ambassador Hotel when RFK was assassinated in June 1968. Williams solemnly sang "Battle Hymn of the Republic" at RFK's funeral, by request of widow Ethel. By August 1969, over a year after Bobby Kennedy's death, Andy and Claudine named their newborn son 'Bobby' Williams. The Williams's friendship with Ethel Kennedy has endured, with Williams even serving as escort to Ethel, during events in the 1970s. Although Williams was a friend of Bobby and Ethel Kennedy, he said he is a lifelong Republican who grew up in Iowa singing in church choirs and feels right at home in Branson. On September 29, 2009, Williams was quoted by The Daily Telegraph of accusing United Statesmarker President Barack Obama of "following Marxist theory" and "wanting the country to fail". He gave Rush Limbaugh permission to use his recording of the song "Born Free" for the theme to the "Animal Rights Update" on his eponymous radio show (in which a portion of the song is then followed by gunfire), saying "Hey, it's fine with me. I love what you're doing with it." The record company later blocked Limbaugh's efforts.


Cadence Records

  • Andy Williams Sings Steve Allen, 1957, CLP 1018 (Mono)
  • Andy Williams, 1958 (compilation of A and B sides of second through seventh Cadence singles), CLP 3002 (Mono)
  • Andy Williams Sings Rodgers and Hammerstein, 1958, CLP 3005 (Mono), CLP 25005 (Stereo)
  • The Village of St. Bernadette, 1959, CLP 3038 (Mono), CLP 25038 (Stereo)
  • Lonely Street, 1959, CLP 3030 (Mono), CLP 25030 (Stereo)
  • Two Time Winners, 1960, CLP 3026 (Mono), CLP 25026 (Stereo)
  • Andy Williams Sings Steve Allen, Re-issue, 1960, CLP 3027 (Mono), CLP 25027 (Stereo)
  • To You, Sweetheart, Aloha, 1960, CLP 3029 (Mono), CLP 25029 (Stereo)
  • Under Parismarker Skies, with Quincy Jones, 1961 (William's last album of new material for Cadence), CLP 3047 (Mono), CLP 25047 (Stereo)
  • Andy Williams' Best, 1962 (compilation including Cadence singles which had never appeared on an album), CLP 3054 (Mono), CLP 25054 (Stereo)
  • Million Seller Songs, 1962, CLP 3061 (Mono), CLP 25061 (Stereo)

Columbia Records

  • Danny Boy and Other Songs I Love to Sing, 1962, CL 1751 (Mono), CS 8551 (Stereo)
  • Moon River and Other Great Movie Themes, 1962 (Certified Gold by the RIAA), CL 1809 (Mono), CS 8609 (Stereo)
  • Warm and Willing, 1962, CL 1879 (Mono), CS 8679 (Stereo)
  • Days of Wine and Roses, AKA Can't Get Used To Losing You, 1963 (Certified Gold by the RIAA), CL 2015 (Mono), CS 8815 (Stereo), SBPG 62146 (Stereo)
  • The Andy Williams Christmas Album, 1963 (Certified Platinum by the RIAA), CL 2087 (Mono), CS 8887 (Stereo)
  • The Wonderful World of Andy Williams, 1964 (Certified Gold by the RIAA), CL 2137 (Mono), CS 8937 (Stereo)
  • Call Me Irresponsible, 1964 (Certified Gold by the RIAA), CL 2171 (Mono), CS 8971 (Stereo)
  • The Great Songs from My Fair Lady and Other Shows, 1964 (Certified Gold by the RIAA), CL 2205 (Mono), CS 9005 (Stereo)
  • Dear Heart, 1965 (Certified Gold by the RIAA), CL 2338 (Mono), CS 9138 (Stereo)
  • Hawaiianmarker Wedding Song, 1965 (reissue of the Cadence Records album To You Sweetheart, Aloha), CL 2323 (Mono), CS 9123 (Stereo)
  • Canadian Sunset, 1965 (reissue of the 1962 Cadence Records compilation Andy Williams' Best), CL 2324 (Mono), CS 9124 (Stereo)
  • Merry Christmas, 1965 (Certified Gold by the RIAA), CL 2420 (Mono), CS 9220 (Stereo)
  • Andy Williams' Newest Hits, 1966 (compilation of early Columbia singles), CL 2383 (Mono), CS 9183 (Stereo)
  • The Shadow of Your Smile, 1966 (Certified Gold by the RIAA), CL 2499 (Mono), CS 9299 (Stereo)
  • In the Arms of Love, 1967, CL 2533 (Mono), CS 9333 (Stereo)
  • Born Free, 1967 (Certified Gold by the RIAA), CL 2680 (Mono), CS 9480 (Stereo)
  • Love, Andy, 1967 (Certified Gold by the RIAA), CL 2766 (Mono), CS 9566 (Stereo) (last album released in both Mono/Stereo formats)
  • Honey, 1968 (Certified Gold by the RIAA), CS 9662
  • Happy Heart, 1969 (Certified Gold by the RIAA), CS 9844
  • Get Together with Andy Williams, 1969 (Certified Gold by the RIAA), CS 9922
  • The Andy Williams' Sound of Music, 1969, CS 9751/9752 (Double LP)
  • Raindrops Keep Fallin' on My Head, 1970, CS 9896 (Gatefold sleeve)
  • Andy Williams' Greatest Hits, 1970 (Certified Gold by the RIAA), KCS 9979
  • The Andy Williams Show, 1970, KC 30105
  • Love Story, 1971 (Certified Platinum by the RIAA), KC 30497, CQ 30497 (Quadrophonic)
  • You've Got a Friend, 1971, KC 30797, CQ 30797 (Quadrophonic)
  • Love Theme from The Godfather (Speak Softly Love), 1972 (Certified Gold by the RIAA), KC 31303, CQ 31303 (Quadrophonic)
  • Alone Again (Naturally), 1972, KC 31625 (Stereo), CQ 31625 (Quadrophonic)
  • Solitaire, 1973, KC 32383
  • Andy Williams' Greatest Hits Vol. II, 1973, KC 32384
  • The Way We Were, 1974, KC 32949
  • You Lay So Easy on My Mind, 1974, KC 33234, CQ 33234 (Quadrophonic)
  • Christmas Present, 1974, 3C 33191
  • The Other Side of Me, 1975, PC 33563
  • Andy, 1976, PC 34299, PCQ 34299 (Quadrophonic)
  • Let's Love While We Can, 1980 (not released in U.S. until 2004)

Other labels

  • Christmas With Andy Williams And The Williams Brothers, Barnaby, 1971, (Columbia Special Products), C 10105
  • Greatest Love Classics, with the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra, EMI, 1984
  • Close Enough for Love, Atco, 1986
  • I Still Believe in Santa Claus, Curb, 1990
  • Nashville, Curb, 1991. Re-released in 1998 as Best Of Country
  • The New Andy Williams Christmas Album, Laserlight, 1994
  • We Need A Little Christmas, Unison, 1997 (Certified Gold by the RIAA)
  • It's a Wonderful Christmas, Publishing Mills, 1997
  • Lonely Street, Varese Sarabande, 302 066 119 2, 2000 (Inc 4 bonus tracks)
  • To You Sweetheart, Aloha, Varese Sarabande, 302 066 253 2, 2001 (Inc 4 bonus tracks)
  • Andy, Collectables, COL-CD-7495, 2002, (Inc 8 bonus tracks)
  • Easy Does It, Metro, 2002
  • Together, 2006, a duet with Petula Clark, who also wrote the lyrics and music
  • I Don't Remember Ever Growing Up, Demon, 2006


Compilation albums include:
  • 16 Most Requested Songs, Columbia/Legacy, 1986
  • 16 Most Requested Songs Encore, Columbia/Legacy, 1995
  • I Like Your Kind Of Love, The Best of the Cadence Years, Varese Sarabande, VSD-5644, 1997
  • Hits From Cadence, Victor, VICP-41130, 1999 (Japan only)
  • Complete Columbia Chart Singles Collection, Taragon, 2002
  • 25 All-Time Greatest Hits 1956-1961 The Cadence Years, Varese Sarabande, 302 066 303 2, 2002
  • Best Of The 70s, Columbia, 510868 2, 2003
  • B Sides and Rarities, Collectables, COL-CD-7529, 2003, (contains recordings as early as 1948, many of which had never appeared on any album before)
  • Moon River:The Very Best Of Andy Williams (October 2009)Columbia Records



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