An American singer who was also one of the most beloved television personalities of his era, Howard Andrew "Andy" Williams died on Tuesday in Branson, Missouri, at the age of 84.
After landing a spot as a regular on NBC's Tonight Starring Steve Allen in 1954, Andy Williams went on to record eighteen Gold-certified and three Platinum-certified albums during his career. Building on his experience with the early Tonight Show and other short-term variety programs throughout the '50s, he became the star of his own weekly variety series on NBC in 1962, called The Andy Williams Show, and hosted the show until 1971, winning three Emmy Awards for outstanding variety program along the way.
Reacting to the mass cancellation of other similar variety shows at the time, Williams stepped down and elected to produce three specials per year instead, including his popular Christmas specials. Running regularly until 1974 and then intermittently from 1982 into the 1990s, his Christmas specials became a staple of the holiday season along with the eight Christmas albums he recorded, earning him the nickname "Mr. Christmas."
Williams is also known for hosting the most Grammy Award telecasts—a total of seven consecutive shows from 1971 until 1977—and returned to television with a syndicated half-hour variety series that only lasted one season in 1976-77.
Although he was a lifelong Republican, Andy was a close personal friend of Robert F. Kennedy and Ethel Kennedy. While campaigning for RFK in June of 1968, Williams was among the celebrities in attendance at the Ambassador Hotel on the night Kennedy was shot and mortally wounded by Sirhan Sirhan. At the request of Bobby's widow Ethel, Williams gave a solemn performance of "The Battle Hymn of the Republic" during RFK's funeral, and even named his newborn son "Bobby" in honor of his fallen friend.
Up until last year when he announced he had bladder cancer, Williams was still performing at his own Moon River Theater located in Branson, MO. Rest in peace, Andy Williams.