Tuesday night, the world lost another musical icon. Crooner Andy Williams, who spent his golden years performing at his own Moon River Theater in Branson, MO, succumbed to a year-long battle with bladder cancer last night, passing away at his home. He was 84.
Williams’ long career as a singer began as a youngster, first singing in the church choir, then with his elder brothers in a quartet. Early professional gigs included recording BGVs with his brothers on Bing Crosby’s hit “Swinging On a Star” and as an early teen, overdubbing Lauren Bacall’s singing voice for the film To Have And Have Not (a track that was never used). As a solo vocalist, Williams first became known in the 1960s for his renditions of tunes like “Can’t Help Falling In Love,” and most notably “Moon River,” which became his signature song.
But Andy Williams’ status as a music icon was solidified by his work on television. His variety show The Andy Williams Show ran from 1962 to 1971, on which he introduced the world to The Osmond Brothers. The show continued to run as a Christmas special for many years.
Over the years, Williams earned five Grammy awards, 18 gold records and three platinum records. President Ronald Reagan once called Andy Williams a “national treasure.” His ongoing show at Moon River Theater opened in 1992 as the first non-country act to appear in Branson, and he continued performing there until after his bladder cancer diagnosis in 2011.
Williams leaves behind his wife Debbie, and his three children from his previous marriage to Claudine Longet, Noelle, Robert and Christian. He will be greatly missed.