Singer Andy Williams dies at age 84

Wed Sep 26, 2012 11:13am EDT
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(Reuters) - Andy Williams, who charmed audiences with his mellow delivery of songs like "Moon River" and "Can't Take My Eyes Off of You" in the 1950s and 60s, has died at his home in Branson, Missouri, his family said Wednesday. He was 84.

The blue-eyed Williams, who continued touring and drawing crowds to his Moon River Theater in the music hub of Branson into his 80s, died on Tuesday evening after a yearlong battle with bladder cancer, his family said in a statement.

Williams had 18 gold record and three platinum hits and in his peak years was a regular on television with his own variety series.

President Ronald Reagan called his voice "a national treasure."

Williams was born on December 3, 1927, in tiny Wall Lake, Iowa, and was singing professionally with three older brothers at age 8. The Williams Brothers had steady work on radio and even sang back-up on Bing Crosby's 1944 hit "Swinging on a Star."

Williams went solo after the group broke up in 1951, drew attention with his appearances on "The Tonight Show" and began recording. His first No. 1 hit, "Butterfly," came in 1957.

Later hits included "Born Free," "Days of Wine and Roses," "The Shadow of Your Smile," "Can't Get Used to Losing You," "Solitaire," "Music to Watch Girls By," "Can't Take My Eyes Off of You" and the theme from the 1970 movie hit "Love Story."

He came upon his signature song when asked to sing “"Moon River" at the 1962 Academy Awards ceremony. Audrey Hepburn had performed the song in the movie "Breakfast at Tiffany's."

"I still love it, as many times as I've done it," Williams told a British newspaper in 2007. "It has a great melody and wonderful lyrics. It's not a bad song to have. It could have been 'Itsy Bitsy Teeny Weeny Yellow Polka Dot Bikini.' We forgot to do it one night and 27 people wanted their money back."   Continued...

Andy Williams (L) gets a hug from Wayne Osmond during a 50th anniversary show at the Orleans hotel-casino in Las Vegas, Nevada in this August 13, 2007 file photo. REUTERS/Steve Marcus/Files