One of the true legends of the music industry — and a huge presence on television for more more than a half-century — has died. Andy Williams, known for his trademark rendition of “Moon River,” was 84.
Williams died Tuesday night after a year-long battle with bladder cancer, USA Today reports.
“Williams, who was one of the most popular vocalists of the 1960s as well as an avid golfer, died at home in Branson, Mo., where he owned the Moon River Theatre. ‘Moon River’ — by Johnny Mercer and Henry Mancini — was one of Williams’ signature songs. On Twitter, fans are saying farewell to our ‘huckleberry friend.’”
“Moon River” was written for the 1961 movie “Breakfast at Tiffany’s,” and was sung in that picture by the film’s star, Audrey Hepburn. The song was nominated for an Academy Award as Best Original Song, and Williams sang it at the 1962 Oscar ceremony. The song won the award.
Williams was a familiar TV presence as far back as the 1950s, including hosting his own popular NBC variety show, “The Andy Williams Show,” from 1962 to 1971, along with a number of other shows with the same title on other networks and in syndication.
He headlined a string of TV Christmas specials in the 1970s and 1980s and hosted the Grammys, Golden Globes and People’s Choice Awards many times, the report notes. He hosted more Grammys ceremonies than anyone else, with a total of 13 appearances — including seven in a row during the 1970s.
“The crooner is survived by his wife, Debbie, and his three children, Robert, Noelle and Christian,” the story reports. “Williams had the children with French-born dancer Claudine Longet. They divorced in 1975 and the following year she was charged with fatally shooting her boyfriend, alpine ski racer Spider Sabich in Aspen. Williams made headlines as he stood by her side throughout the public trial. He married Debbie Meyer in 1991.”
Here’s a clip of Williams performing “Moon River” on his TV show in 1962: