Andy Williams, the lovable crooner behind hits such as “Moon River” and “Are You Sincere” has died of bladder cancer at 84. Williams announced his diagnosis in 2011, but kept performing at his Branson, Missouri theater. He began performing in a quartet with his three older brothers, but it was clear he had that something extra. Williams went solo in the 50s. Over his recording career he earned 18 gold, three platinum albums and five Grammy nominations.
Williams began appearing on NBC’s Tonight Show in the 50s. His good looks and natural charisma took him from being a guest on the couch to hosting his own show. The Andy Williams Show ran from 1962-67, earning him three Emmys. That show gave us early glimpses of young talent including the Jackson 5 and the Osmonds. Viewers really connected with his Christmas specials. NBC asked Williams do holiday episodes even after the show had ended its run. That earned Williams generations of fans who knew him as the “Christmas special guy,” with little to no knowledge of his pop career.
The entertainer fit perfectly into the family friendly environment of Branson. He built the $13 million Andy Williams Moon River Theatre in 1992, staking his claim to an area populated primarily by country stars. Williams told the Associated Press his Hollywood friends thought he was crazy to abandon L.A. for Branson. After the theater became a huge success, a lot of those same naysayers wish they’d thought of it first. Williams never lost his knack for knowing what the audience wanted, or his ability to give it to them.