Andy Williams began his amazing career in his hometown of Wall Lake, Iowa. It was there he
began singing with his three brothers in a local Presbyterian church choir that was established
by his parents. At the tender age of 8, Andy made his professional singing debut as part of the
Williams Brothers Quartet. The brothers became regulars on radio station WHO’s “Iowa’s Barn
Dance Show” in Des Moines, Iowa. From there, the brothers continued their radio days being
prominently featured on national stations like WLS in Chicago and WLW in Cincinnati.
The widespread radio exposure brought the boys a considerable following which eventually
caught the attention of Bing Crosby. With Crosby, Andy and his brothers made their first
professional recording, “Swinging on a Star” which became a tremendous hit in 1944.
In 1947, Andy and his brothers teamed up with comedienne Kay Thompson ( who also wrote the
popular children’s book series “Eloise”) for a successful, trend setting nightclub act. Thompson
and the brothers spend the next few years performing all over the United States and in London.
But it all came to an end in 1951 as the group disbanded and each brother went their own way.
Andy chose to move to New York and continued to pursue his vocal career.
While in New York, Andy became a regular performer on Steve Allen’s “Tonight Show”. For
2 ½ years he appeared on the “Tonight Show” which led to his first recording contract with
It wasn’t long before Andy had his first top 10 hit with “Canadian Sunset”. What followed was
a string of hits that included “Butterfly”, “Lonely Street”, “The Village of St. Bernadette”, and
“The Hawaiian Wedding Song” for which he received the first of his five Grammy Awards
His work in television continued during this time period with regular guest appearances on
the Dinah Shore and Perry Como Shows and in 1958, for 13 weeks he presented “The Chevy
Showroom with Andy Williams”. In the summer of 1959, Andy was chosen by CBS to host a
variety program that was to replace “The Gary Moore Show” for a 13 week period. When this
series of shows concluded Andy began to concentrate on one-hour television specials. The first,
“Music from Schubert Alley”, was presented by NBC on November 13, 1959.
The first event that kicked Andy’s career into high gear was the change of recording labels. In
1962, he began his 25 year association with Columbia Records. Almost immediately he scored
his first Top 10 hit for Columbia, “Can’t Get Used to Losing You”. Many more hits were to
follow, but none would become more associated with Andy Williams than “Moon River”, the
Oscar winning song from the film “Breakfast at Tiffany’s”. This song quickly became his theme
song and propelled his album, “Moon River and Other Great Movie Themes”, to the top of the
charts. The following year Andy released the album, “Days of Wine and Roses” which spent an
incredible 16 weeks at #1 and stayed on the chart for over 100 weeks. His subsequent recordings
were best sellers and resulted in his receiving 18 gold and 3 platinum certified albums.
The second event that helped make Andy a superstar was the debut of his weekly television
series, “The Andy Williams Show”. Debuting on September 16, 1962, Andy premiered his new
variety show on NBC that would eventually last for nine years and would win three Emmy
Awards for Best Musical / Variety Series (1966, 1967 and 1969). It was one of NBC’s top rated
programs. From this series Andy began his classic Christmas specials that featured the entire
Live performances were still a big part of Andy’s career and in 1966, he opened Caesar’s Palace
and subsequently headlined at the famed Las Vegas hotel for the next 20 years.
By the time “The Andy Williams Show” ended in 1972, Andy had become a true international
superstar. With tremendous world wide record sales and global distribution of his television
show, he was just as popular in other countries as he was right her in the U.S. This recognition
prompted several tours of England, Europe, Australia, Japan and Asia, breaking attendance
records wherever he appeared.
At this point in his career, most performers would have opted to sit back, relax and just make
minimal concert and television appearance. However, Andy chose another path; one that put him
in the international spotlight once again.
In 1991, Andy took a trip to Branson, Missouri to see his friend Ray Stevens who had just
opened a theatre in the growing country music town and tourist destination. Andy was so taken
with the town, the people and the amazing talent the town featured that he began to make his
own plans for becoming a part of the small Ozark community.
His plans to build a $12 million state of the art theatre came to fruition as the Andy Williams
Moon River Theatre opened its doors on May 1, 1992. Andy had become the first non-country
performer to open a theatre in Branson. And thanks to his ground breaking decision, other non-
country performers and theme shows began to move in to the tiny town that would soon be known
as the live music capital of the world.
In the spring of 1999, Andy found himself back on the record charts once again. In England, a
commercial for the Fiat Automobile Company featured Andy’s version of “Music to Watch Girls
By” which was a minor record hit for him in 1967. The ad became so popular that the record
company re-released the song as a single and this time around it was a Top 10 hit. Because of the
renewed interest in his music, Andy made his first trip to Europe in a decade touring throughout
England, Ireland and Scotland. The response from crowds of all ages was incredible. Every
theatre sold out in hours after tickets went on sale. He was now more popular than ever and was
known throughout the U.K. as the “Emperor of Easy”.
At his Moon River Theatre, Andy shared the stage with various guest stars such as Glen
Campbell, Ann-Margret, Petula Clark, and Charo. Andy’s electrifying performances with his
guests blended music and comedy into spectacular shows that were one of Branson’s most
popular attractions. The 2008-2010 fall presentations of The Andy Williams All-Star Variety
Show were very reminiscent of his television show, and he felt these were the best shows he had
done since he had been in Branson.
In November and December, The Andy Williams Christmas Show still packs the 2000 seat
Theatre with a show that recalls his classic television Christmas specials.
Andy’s autobiography titled “Moon River and Me,” published by Viking Press, was released in
October, 2009. It soon rose to #10 on the L.A. Times Best Seller List.
Andy continued to perform until 2011 when he left the stage to combat a cancer diagnosis in
September. He returned to the stage on one night in November 2011 to sing one song in his
Christmas Show and talked to the audience about his illness. Andy passed on September 25, 2012.