Longtime Branson Entertainer Andy Williams Passes
The Shefrin Company
808 South Ridgeley Drive, Los Angeles CA 90036-4727
Phone (323) 931-8200 * Fax (323) 939-5799
September 26, 2012
Andy Williams Passes
Legendary singer Andy Williams passed away last night (Tuesday) at home in Branson, Missouri following a year long battle with bladder cancer, it was announced by his family. Williams, 84, who also had a residence in La Quinta, California, is survived by his wife Debbie and his three children, Robert, Noelle and Christian. In lieu of flowers, the family asks that donations be made to the Bladder Cancer Advocacy Network. For information go to http://www.bcan.org
Born December 3, 1927, Andy Williams began his amazing career in his hometown of Wall Lake, Iowa. It was there he began singing with his three brothers, Bob, Dick and Don, in a local Presbyterian church choir that was established by his parents. At the tender age of 8, Andy made his professional singing debut as part of the Williams Brothers Quartet. The brothers became regulars on radio station WHO’s “Iowa’s Barn Dance Show” in Des Moines, Iowa. From there, the brothers continued their radio days being prominently featured on national stations like WLS in Chicago and WLW in Cincinnati.
The widespread radio exposure brought the boys a considerable following which eventually caught the attention of Bing Crosby. With Crosby, Andy and his brothers made their first professional recording, “Swinging on a Star” which became a tremendous hit in 1944.
In 1947, Andy and his brothers teamed up with comedienne Kay Thompson (who also wrote the popular children’s book series “Eloise”) for a successful, trend setting nightclub act. Thompson and the brothers spend the next few years performing all over the United States and in London. But it all came to an end in 1951 as the group disbanded and each brother went their own way. Andy chose to move to New York and continued to pursue his vocal career.
While in New York, Andy became a regular performer on Steve Allen’s “Tonight Show”. For 2 ½ years he appeared on the “Tonight Show” which led to his first recording contract with Cadence Records.
It wasn’t long before Andy had his first top 10 hit with “Canadian Sunset”. What followed was a string of hits that included “Butterfly”, “Lonely Street”, “The Village of St. Bernadette”, and “The Hawaiian Wedding Song” for which he received the first of his five Grammy Awards nominations.
His work in television continued during this time period with regular guest appearances on the Dinah Shore and Perry Como Shows and in 1958, for 13 weeks he presented “The Chevy Showroom with Andy Williams”. In the summer of 1959, Andy was chosen by CBS to host a variety program that was to replace “The Gary Moore Show” for a 13 week period. When this series of shows concluded Andy began to concentrate on one-hour television specials. The first, “Music from Schubert Alley”, was presented by NBC on November 13, 1959.
The first event that kicked Andy’s career into high gear was the change of recording labels. In 1962, he began his 25 year association with Columbia Records. Almost immediately he scored his first Top 10 hit for Columbia, “Can’t Get Used to Losing You”. Many more hits were to follow, but none would become more associated with Andy Williams than “Moon River”, the Oscar winning song from the film “Breakfast at Tiffany’s”. This song quickly became his theme song and propelled his album, “Moon River and Other Great Movie Themes”, to the top of the charts. The following year Andy released the album, “Days of Wine and Roses” which spent an incredible 16 weeks at #1 and stayed on the chart for over 100 weeks. His subsequent recordings were best sellers and resulted in his receiving 18 gold and 3 platinum certified albums.
The second event that helped make Andy a superstar was the debut of his weekly television series, “The Andy Williams Show”. Debuting on September 16, 1962, Andy premiered his new variety show on NBC that would eventually last for nine years and would win three Emmy Awards for Best Musical /Variety Series (1963, 1966 and 1967). It was one of NBC’s top rated programs. From this series Andy began his classic Christmas specials that featured the entire Williams family.
Live performances were still a big part of Andy’s career and in 1966, he opened Caesar’s Palace and subsequently headlined at the famed Las Vegas hotel for the next 20 years.
An avid golfer, starting in 1968, Andy hosted the “Andy Williams San Diego Open” for 20 years.
By the time “The Andy Williams Show” ended in 1972, Andy had become a true international superstar.
With tremendous world wide record sales and global distribution of his television show, he was just as popular in other countries as he was right here in the U.S. This recognition prompted several tours of England, Europe, Australia, Japan and Asia, breaking attendance records wherever he appeared.
At this point in his career, most performers would have opted to sit back, relax and just make minimal concert and television appearance. However, Andy chose another path; one that put him in the international spotlight once again.
In 1991, Andy took a trip to Branson, Missouri to see his friend Ray Stevens who had just opened a theatre in the growing country music town and tourist destination. Andy was so taken with the town, the people and the amazing talent the town featured that he began to make his own plans for becoming a part of the small Ozark community.
His plans to build a $12 million state of the art theatre came to fruition as the Andy Williams Moon River Theatre opened it doors on May 1, 1992. Andy had become the first non-country performer to open a theatre in Branson. And thanks to his ground breaking decision, other non-country performers and theme shows began to move in to the tiny town that would soon be know as the live music capital of the world.
The Moon River Theatre’s design reflects the beauty and environmental integrity for the surrounding Ozark Mountains. The 48,000 square foot structure is set among 16 acres landscaped with foliage, rock formation, waterfalls and a rippling stream. It won the 1992 Conservation Award for Developed Land Use from the State of Missouri and is the only theatre ever to be featured in Architectural Digest.
For the interior, it was Andy’s idea to create a beautiful auditorium for live performances along with a lobby area that had a museum-like atmosphere so that he could display pieces of art from his personal collection.
Andy and his wife Debbie, who were together over 26 years, reside in Branson just a few miles from the Theatre. Their beautiful Country French home that they built is located on a golf course in a private local community. The house overlooks the gorgeous Lake Taneycomo which is famous for its cool waters and trout fishing. Andy has three children, Robert, Noelle and Christian, from a previous marriage.
In the spring of 1999, Andy found himself back on the record charts once again. In England, a commercial for the Fiat Automobile Company featured Andy’s version of “Music to Watch Girls By” which was a minor record hit for him in 1967. The ad became so popular that the record company re-released the song as a single and this time around it was a Top 10 hit. Because of the renewed interest in his music, Andy made his first trip to Europe in a decade touring throughout England, Ireland and Scotland. The response from crowds of all ages was incredible. Every theatre sold out in hours after tickets went on sale. He was more popular than ever and was known throughout the U.K. as the “Emperor of Cool”.
At his Moon River Theatre, Andy shared the stage with various guest stars such as Glen Campbell, Ann-Margret, Petula Clark, and Charo. Andy’s electrifying performances with his guests blended music and comedy into spectacular shows that were one of Branson’s most popular attractions. The 2008-2010 fall presentations of The Andy Williams All-Star Variety Show were very reminiscent of his television show, and he felt these were the best shows he had done since he has been in Branson.
In November and December, The Andy Williams Christmas Show packed the 2000 seat Theatre with a show that recalls his classic television Christmas specials.
In addition to performing at his Theatre, Andy was also busy on other projects. In 2007 he opened his one-of-a-kind restaurant called the Moon River Grill, which features a lot of his mother’s favorite recipes and has many works from his collection of pop art. Andy’s autobiography titled “Moon River and Me,” published by Viking Press, was released in October, 2009. It soon rose to #10 on the L.A. Times Best Seller List.
AWARDS, ACCOLADES, APPEARANCES
|THE ANDY WILLIAMS SHOW - NBC|
|1962 - 1971||The Andy Williams Show (9 year run)|
|ANDY WILLIAMS TELEVISION SPECIALS|
|1959||Music of Shubert Alley - NBC|
|1967||Love, Andy - NBC|
|1968||H. Andrew Williams Kaleidoscope Co. - NBC|
|1969||H. Andrew Williams Magic Lantern Show Co. - NBC|
|1969||Andy's Love Concert - NBC|
|1973||The Andy Williams Christmas Show - NBC|
|1974||Andy Williams Presents - NBC|
|1974||The Andy Williams Christmas Show - NBC|
|1982||Andy Williams Early New England Christmas - CBS|
|1983||Andy Williams Christmas in Washington D.C. - NBC|
|1985||Andy Williams & the NBC Kids Search for Santa - NBC|
|1987||Andy Williams & the NBC Kids: Easter in Rome - NBC|
|RIAA CERTIFIED GOLD ALBUMS|
|1963||Moon River and Other Great Movie Themes|
|Days of Wine and Roses|
|The Andy Williams Christmas Album|
|1964||The Wonderful World of Andy Williams|
|Call Me Irresponsible|
|Great Songs From "My Fair Lady" and other Broadway Hits|
|1966||The Shadow of Your Smile|
|Get Together with Andy Williams|
|1970||Andy Williams' Greatest Hits|
|1972||Love Theme from "The Godfather"|
|1998||We Need a Little Christmas|
|1963||The Andy Williams Christmas Album|
|1963||Best Variety Series|
|1966||Best Variety Series|
|1967||Best Variety Series|
|1959||Best Male Vocalist for "Hawaiian Wedding Song"|
|1964||Album of the Year for "Days of Wine and Roses"|
|1964||Best Male Vocalist for "Days of Wine and Roses"|
|1965||Best Male Vocalist for "Call Me Irresponsible"|
|1967||Best Male Vocalist for "The Shadow of Your Smile"|
|GOLDEN GLOBE NOMINATIONS|
|1968||Most Popular Male TV Star|
|1956||Most Promising Male Vocalist|
|1963||Best Vocal Album for "Days of Wine and Roses"|
|1968||Most Popular Artist on Campus|
|HOST FOR THE GRAMMY AWARDS|
|1971||13th Annual Grammy Awards, ABC|
|1972||14th Annual Grammy Awards, ABC|
|1973||15th Annual Grammy Awards, CBS|
|1974||16th Annual Grammy Awards, CBS|
|1975||17th Annual Grammy Awards, CBS|
|1976||18th Annual Grammy Awards, CBS|
|1977||19th Annual Grammy Awards, CBS|
|1981||Grammy Hall of Fame, CBS|
|1983||25th Annual Grammy Awards, CBS|
|HOST FOR THE GOLDEN GLOBE AWARDS|
|1967||24th Annual Golden Globe Awards|
|1968||25th Annual Golden Globe Awards|
|HOST FOR THE PEOPLES' CHOICE AWARDS|
|1984||Peoples' Choice Awards, CBS|
|1988||Peoples' Choice Awards, CBS|
|1964||Fashion Foundation of America|
|Best Dressed Man on TV|
|1969||Fashion Foundation of America|
|Best Dressed Man on TV|
|1970||Men's Wear Daily - Top 10 Best Dressed Men|
|2008||Society of Singers "Ella Award"|
|2009||Songwriters Hall of Fame - Towering Performance Award|
|2010||Pacific Pioneer Broadcasters Art Gilmore Career|
|2011||Judy Garland Life Time Achievement Award|
|2012||Pioneer Award - Branson, Missouri|
|"TODAY SHOW" APPEARANCES|
|December 13, 1983|
|November 27, 1986|
|April 17, 1987|
|November 26, 1987|
|December 25, 1996|
|December 23, 1998|
|April, 2009 (from Branson)|
|"TONIGHT SHOW WITH JOHNNY CARSON" APPEARANCES|
|December 10, 1974|
|November 29, 1978|
|September 4, 1980|
|April 27, 1982|
|December 3, 1982 - with Joan Rivers|
|December 16, 1983|
|November 13, 1986|
|November 21, 1988 - with Jay Leno|
|November 21, 1989 - with Jay Leno|
|"DAVID LETTERMAN SHOW" APPEARANCES|
|December 23, 1988|
|December 23, 1993|
|PBS TELEVISION SPECIALS|
|December 1993 - The Andy Williams Christmas Show|
|March 1994 - Andy Williams in Concert at Branson|
|August 2010 - "Moon River and Me" (at Moon River Theatre in Branson, Missouri)|
|MISCELLANEOUS SPECIALS AND GUEST SHOTS|
|1965||Celebration: The American Spirit|
|1972||Peggy Flemming: To Europe with Love|
|1973, 76, 78||The Dinah Shore Show|
|1974, 75, 78||The Merv Griffin Show|
|1975||Saturday Night Live: With Howard Cosell|
|1975, 78||The Mike Douglas Show|
|1976||Peggy Flemming Live: Madison Square Garden|
|1976||The Donny and Marie Show|
|1976||The Donny and Marie Christmas Special|
|1976||Russell Harty Show|
|1977||Happy Birthday Las Vegas|
|1977||Super Night at Forest Hills|
|1977, 78||Super Night at the Superbowl|
|1978||Cinderella at the Palace|
|1978||The Phil Donahue Show|
|1979||The Osmond Family Show|
|1980||The Muppet Show|
|1981||Bob Hope Christmas Show|
|1982||Barbara Mandrell and the Mandrell Sisters|
|1983||Happy New Year America (1984)|
|1984||Happy New Year America (1985)|
|1985||The Osmonds' 25th Anniversary Show|
|1987||Mancini & Friends|
|1987||Great Performances - PBS|
|1988||Christmas with the Boston Pops|
|1988||Live with Regis and Kathie Lee|
|1989||31st Annual Grammy Awards (Guest)|
|1989||The Bob Hope Easter Show|
|1989||The Joan Rivers Show|
|1989||The Pat Sajak Show|
|1992||The Vicki Lawrence Show|
|1992||The Statler Brothers show|
|1995||37th Annual Grammy Awards (Presenter)|
|1995||Live with Regis and Kathie Lee (from Branson)|
|1995||Kathie Lee Gifford Christmas Special|
|1997||Larry King Live - CNN|
|1998||Larry Sanders Show|
|1998||40th Annual Grammy Awards|
|1999||The Donny and Marie Show|
|2002||NBC 75th Anniversary Special|
|2004||Larry King Live - CNN|
|2004||46th Annual Grammy Awards (Presenter)|
|2007||As the World Turns - CBS|
|2008||50th Annual Grammy Awards (Presenter)|
|2008||Osmond's 50th Anniversary Concert in Las Vegas|
|2008||Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade|
|2009||O'Reilly Factor TV Show - FOX|
|2009||Hannity Show - FOX|
|2009||Huckabee Show - FOX|
|2009||Glen Beck Show - FOX|
|2009||Good Morning America - ABC|
|2009||Parade Magazine Interview|
|2009||Tavis Smiley Show - PBS|
|2010||Michel Legrand PBS Special|
|2010||Huckabee Show - FOX|