Andy Williams, the golden-voiced singer known for “Moon River” and his popular TV Christmas specials, has died following a year-long battle with bladder cancer, his publicist confirmed to the Associated Press on Wednesday. He was 84.
Williams recorded 18 gold and three platinum records during a career that spanned more than 70 years. His relaxed, low-key vocal style, once called “a national treasure” by President Ronald Reagan, made him an easy-listening icon, an image reinforced by The Andy Williams Show. Airing in various formats from 1959-71, the show featured Williams along with regular guests including the Osmonds, Bobby Darin and the New Christy Minstrels. Williams also became known for clean-cut Christmas specials.
Born December 3rd, 1927, in Iowa, he began performing with three siblings as the Williams Brothers when he was 11 years old. Williams launched a solo career in 1953, compiling a steady stream of pop hits on cuts including “Canadian Sunset,” “Are You Sincere” and his only Number One single, “Butterfly.” “Moon River” became his signature song after he recorded the Johnny Mercer-Henry Mancini tune for his 1962 album, Moon River and Other Great Movie Themes.
The song was so closely associated with Williams that he named his theater in Branson, Missouri, after it when the venue opened in 1992. Although Williams continued to tour in short bursts, the Moon River Theatre became his performing home for most of the past 20 years, and also displayed portions of Williams’ world-class art collection, which included works by Jackson Pollock, Helen Frankenthaler, Richard Diebenkorn and Paul Klee.
Williams is survived by his wife, Debbie, and his three children, Robert, Noelle and Christian.