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Singer Andy Williams dies from cancer at the age of 84

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)
September 26th, 2012
Catholic Online (www.catholic.org)

As a singer, Andy Williams will forever be associated with "Moon River," a song penned by Henry Mancini for the 1961 film "Breakfast at Tiffany's." Williams's variety show in the late Sixties was a bastion of conservatism in a tumultuous time that nonetheless was forward-thinking in its absurdist comedy, featuring a talking bear forever in the search of cookies. Williams' life was touched by fame, fortune and scandal. He has passed away from cancer at the age of 84.

LOS ANGELES, CA (Catholic Online) - Williams had continued to perform until last year, when he announced in November that he had bladder cancer.

Williams made the song "Moon River" indisputably his own when he sang it at the 1962 Academy Awards ceremony and titled a subsequent album after it. His theater in Branson is named the Andy Williams Moon River Theater.

"Moon River" became the theme song for his musical-variety television series "The Andy Williams Show," which, along with his family-oriented Christmas TV specials, made him a welcome guest throughout America's homes.

"The Andy Williams Show" ran on NBC from 1962 to 1971 and won three Emmy Awards for outstanding variety series. Hi guests were such wholesome acts such as the Osmond Brothers and established performers like Judy Garland and Bobby Darin.

Williams' fame as a singer came from movie themes such as "Love Story," "Charade," "The Way We Were" and "Days of Wine and Roses."

Earning 18 gold and three platinum albums and was nominated for Grammy Awards five times, but he never had a gold single. Ironically, his version of "Moon River" was not released as a single, although versions by Mr. Mancini and Jerry Butler reached the Top 20. His biggest hit single - and his only No. 1 - was "Butterfly," an uncharacteristically rocklike 1957 number in which he was told to imitate Elvis Presley.

Close friends with Senator Robert F. Kennedy, he sang "The Battle Hymn of the Republic" at Kennedy's funeral in 1968. Williams was a staunch Republican, declaring in 2009 that "Obama is following Marxist theory . He's taken over the banks and the car industry. He wants the country to fail."

The host of a namesake golf tournament in San Diego, Williams also collected art. His collection included works by Picasso, Jackson Pollock, Willem de Kooning and Henry Moore. In 1987, he was named to Arts & Antiques magazine's list of 100 top American collectors.

Williams was also linked, in a distaff way to scandal. In 1961, Williams married singer Claudine Longet, with whom he had two sons and a daughter. The couple divorced in 1975, the year Longet was charged with fatally shooting skiing champion Spider Sabitch in Aspen, Colorado. Williams stood by his ex-wife, who contended that the shooting was accidental, and accompanied her to court during her trial. She was found guilty of criminally negligent homicide, a misdemeanor, and sentenced to 30 days in jail.

Williams married Debbie Haas, a hotel executive in 1991. She survives him, as do his children, his brothers Don and Dick, and six grandchildren.

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