Wall Lake, Iowa, USA
Claim to Fame
Moon River, (song) Speak Softly Love (song)
Salt and Pepper
Easy Listening, Vocal Pop, Standards, Traditional Pop, Pop/Rock, AM Pop, Early Pop/Rock, Soft Rock, Show Tunes, Cast Recordings, Stage & Screen
Sophisticated, Romantic, Smooth, Carefree, Elegant, Sweet, Innocent, Soothing, Earnest, Stylish, Amiable/Good-Natured, Cheerful, Happy, Refined/Mannered, Gentle, Sentimental, Reflective, Poignant, Playful, Bittersweet, Cathartic
Soundtrack, Actor/Actress, Producer
Has Detailed Data (New)
Full Name at Birth
Howard Andrew Williams
Has Detailed Data (Music)
Singer, Actor, Producer
Has Detailed Data (105)
Has Detailed Data (76)
Music Profile Complete
Profile Bio Text
Howard Andrew "Andy" Williams (December 3, 1927 – September 25, 2012) was an American popular music singer. He recorded seventeen Gold- and three Platinum-certified albums. He hosted The Andy Williams Show, a TV variety show, from 1962 to 1971, as well as numerous television specials. Most recently, he performed at his Moon River Theatre in Branson, Missouri, which was named after the Johnny Mercer and Henry Mancini song "Moon River", with which he is closely identified.
Williams was born in Wall Lake, Iowa, the son of Jay Emerson and Florence (née Finley) Williams. Williams attended Western Hills High School in Cincinnati, but finished high school at University High School in West Los Angeles as a result of his family's move to California. He had three older brothers—Bob, Don, and Dick Williams (singer).
Williams' first performance was in a children's choir at the local Presbyterian church. He and his brothers formed The Williams Brothers quartet in late 1938, and they performed on radio in the Midwest, first at WHO in Des Moines, Iowa, and later at WLS in Chicago and WLW in Cincinnati.
Moving to Los Angeles in 1943, The Williams Brothers sang with Bing Crosby on the hit record "Swinging on a Star" (1944). They appeared in four musical films: Janie (1944), Kansas City Kitty (1944), Something in the Wind (1947) and Ladies' Man (1947).
The Williams Brothers were signed by Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer to appear in Anchors Aweigh and Ziegfeld Follies (1945) but before they went before the cameras, the oldest brother Bob was drafted into military service and the group's contract was canceled. Kay Thompson, a former radio star who was now head of the vocal department at MGM, had a nose for talent and she hired the remaining three Williams Brothers to sing in her large choir on many soundtracks for such MGM films as The Harvey Girls (1946). When Bob completed his military service, Kay hired all four of them to sing on the soundtrack to Good News (1947).
By then, Kay Thompson was tired of working behind the scenes at MGM so, with the four Williams boys as her backup singers and dancers, she formed a nightclub act called Kay Thompson and the Williams Brothers. They made their debut in Las Vegas in 1947 and became an overnight sensation. Within a year, they were the highest paid nightclub act in the world, breaking records wherever they appeared.
Andy Williams revealed in his memoir Moon River and Me that he and Kay became romantically involved while on tour, despite the age difference (he was 19 and she was 38). The act broke up in 1949 but reunited for another hugely successful tour from the fall of 1951 through the summer of 1953. After that the four brothers went their separate ways. A complete itinerary of both tours is listed on the Kay Thompson biography website.
Andy and Kay, however, remained very close, both personally and professionally. She mentored his emergence as a solo singing star. She coached him, wrote his arrangements, and composed many songs that he recorded (including his 1958 Top 20 hit "Promise Me, Love" and, later, "Kay Thompson's Jingle Bells" on his 1964 No. 1 The Andy Williams Christmas Album). Using her contacts in the business, Kay helped Andy land his breakthrough television gig as a featured singer for two-and-a-half years on The Tonight Show starring Steve Allen (it helped that the producer of the series Bill Harbach was Kay's former aide de camp). Kay also got Andy his breakthrough recording contract with Cadence Records (the label's owner Archie Bleyer had gotten early career breaks because of Kay and he owed her a favor). Meanwhile, Andy sang backup on many of Kay's recordings through the 1950s, including her Top 40 hit Eloise based on her bestselling books about the mischievous little girl who lives at the Plaza Hotel in New York.
Kay also served as a creative consultant and vocal arranger on Andy's three summer replacement network television series in 1957, 1958, and 1959. In the summer of 1961, Kay traveled with Andy and coached him throughout his starring role in a summer stock tour of the musical Pal Joey. Their personal and professional relationship finally ended in 1962 when Andy met and married Claudine Longet and Kay moved to Rome.
Williams at the Moon River Theater in Branson, Missouri, 2006
Williams' solo career began in 1953. He recorded six songs for RCA Victor's label "X", but none of them were popular hits.
After finally landing a spot as a regular on Tonight Starring Steve Allen in 1954, Williams was signed to a recording contract with Cadence Records, a small label in New York run by conductor Archie Bleyer. His third single, "Canadian Sunset" reached No. 7 in the Top Ten in August 1956, and was soon followed by his only Billboard No. 1 hit—in February 1957—"Butterfly
Couple Profile Source
Western Hills High School
Place of Death
Branson, Missouri, USA
Cause of Death
www.andywilliams.com/, www.andywilliamstheatre.com/, www.findagrave.com/cgi-bin/fg.cgi?page=gr&GRid=97797236
Music Genre (Text)
Traditional pop, Easy Listening, Country
Sony BMG/Columbia, Cadence
The Williams Brothers
Couple Profile Source
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