Andy Williams dies of bladder cancer at age 84
Andy Williams, who is likely best known for his rendition of "Moon River," died Tuesday evening at his home in Branson, Missouri, after battling bladder cancer. He was 84 years old.
The singer announced in November 2011 that he was diagnosed with the ailment but planned to continue performing. He is survived by his wife of 21 years, Debbie, and his three children with ex wife and French singer Claudine Longet, according to CNN.
Williams released hit singles in the 1950s and '60s, including "Can't Get Used to Losing You" and "Butterfly." He is best known for his version of "Moon River," a song that originally appeared on the soundtrack to the 1961 Audrey Hepburn film "Breakfast at Tiffany's." The tune was originally written by Johnny Mercer and Henry Mancini.
Williams first recorded the song in 1961 and performed it at the Academy Awards in 1962. He earned 18 gold and three platinum albums in his career. He is also known for his 1963 recording of the Christmas song "It's the Most Wonderful Time of the Year."
He also hosted "The Andy Williams Show," from 1962 to 1971. He published an autobiography, "Moon River and Me: A Memoir," in 2009.
Williams was mourned publicly by fellow singers Donny and Marie Osmond, who had made her TV debut on "The Andy Williams Show" when she was a child. She called Williams "our mentor" and said her and her brother's former group The Osmonds" "would not exist without the foresight and generosity" of the singer.
"Andy was the first person to affect my career," she said in a statement obtained by OTRC.com. "He was my very first duet and dance partner on "The Andy Williams Show' where I made my debut at age 3. I thought he was so handsome ... and always did.
"He gave me singing advice that I've applied to my entire career," she said. "He told me, 'Don't take singing lessons, do breathing exercises.' He would tell me to practice swimming the length of a pool underwater to increase my lung capacity.
She said that she is able to perform power songs such as 'World Goes Round' in her and Donny's current Las Vegas show because of Williams.
"No one sang more beautifully than Andy Williams," she said. "Hearing his version of "Moon River" never failed to move me deeply. I can't imagine the holiday season without Andy Williams; we did so many specials together. I feel I've lost a dear family member and though my heart is heavy today, I feel blessed to have been graced by working and learning from such a magnificent and lasting talent and caring mentor."
Donny called Williams "an inspiring man in both his music and his life."
"The clarity and warmth and grace of his singing shaped my love of music as I watched my brothers perform with him on his weekly show," he said. "When I finally joined my brothers and toured with Andy as his opening act and back-up singers, I was always impressed with the way he handled an audience. "He loved the audience. That was one of the most important lessons he taught me."
Donny praised Williams' "pure" and "pleasant" singing voice, adding: "I will always treasure the memories of when I was 7 years old and he took the time to give me several voice lessons. He truly was a great singer and I will ever be indebted to Andy for giving me the opportunity to fulfill my dreams and the opportunity to be personally inspired by such a generous talent."