Andy Williams of ‘Moon River’ dies

Andy Williams of ‘Moon River’ dies

CHICAGO - Agence France-Presse
Andy Williams of ‘Moon River’ dies

Crooner Andy Williams, who is best known for ‘Moon River’ died aged 84. EPA photo

American crooner Andy Williams, whose string of hits like “Moon River” and annual Christmas TV shows made him a national treasure, has died aged 84 after losing his battle with cancer.

Wildly popular in the 1960s, with 18 gold and three platinum records, the clean-cut master of easy listening and the sentimental soundtrack signed what at the time was the biggest US recording contract.

 “Legendary singer Andy Williams passed away last night (Sept. 25) at home in Branson, Missouri following a yearlong battle with bladder cancer, it was announced by his family,” his publicist said.

75-year career

Born in Wall Lake, Iowa, Howard Andrew Williams sang in his family’s church choir with bothers Bob, Dick and Don, setting off on what was to become a 75-year professional singing career.

After World War II, they joined entertainer Kay Thompson in her innovative and sophisticated nightclub act. In his 2009 memoir “Moon River and Me,” Williams admitted a long affair with Thompson, 18 years his senior, as she coached him professionally.

On his way to earning more gold albums than any other solo performer bar Frank Sinatra, Johnny Mathis and Elvis Presley, Williams won an Oscar for his rendition of “Moon River” in the 1961 hit film “Breakfast at Tiffany’s.” NBC signed up the silky-voiced singer to host his own show tailored for “adult contemporary” musicians with similar stylings. “The Andy Williams Show” ran from 1962 to 1971, making the singer a household name across America and allowing him to introduce acts to the world, including the Osmond Brothers.

A frequent host of the Grammys and Golden Globes, Williams was also known for his television Christmas specials, and in later years, decked out in his trademark red cardigan, he became an annual fixture in American homes.