The Joplin Globe, Joplin, MO

October 6, 2012

Howard Andrew "Andy" Williams

The Joplin Globe


Howard Andrew Williams was born in Wall Lake, Iowa, on Dec. 3, 1927, to Florence Finley Williams and Jay Williams the fourth of six children. Andy started singing with his three older brothers, Bob, Don and Dick, when he was 7 years old. By the time he was 9, the family had moved to Des Moines, where the Williams Brothers were a staff quartet for station WHO and regulars on the Iowa Barn Dance radio show. Their father, Jay Williams, moved the family around as their career advanced  first to Chicago to WLS and the National Barn Dance and then to Cincinnatti to WLW, where they had their own morning radio show. Finally, the family moved to Los Angeles, where they sang with Bing Crosby on his record,"Would You Like to Swing on a Star" and made several movies. Ultimately, they signed a contract with MGM. It was at MGM that they met Kay Thompson, who was then vocal coach for MGM, and she decided they were the perfect accompaniment to the night club act she wanted to do. Kay Thompson and the Williams Brothers became the premier nightclub act from 1947 to 1953, appearing at all of the top supper clubs in the country from the Top of the Mark in San Francisco to the Persian Room at New York's famed Plaza Hotel. In 1953, the act broke up and Williams Brothers went their separate ways.

Andy began his solo career on the Tonight Show, then hosted by Steve Allen, as one of four regular singers. His career took off from there and included 18 gold albums and three platinum ones, an Emmy award winning TV show, years of headlining at Caesar's Palace in Las Vegas, and the family Christmas shows that were a holiday staple in the homes of an entire generation.

The year 1991 proved an important one both professionally and personally for Andy. He married Debbie that year and he also came to Branson. Andy's brother Don, then Ray Stevens manager, urged Andy to visit Branson and see how well Ray's theater was doing. Andy did and decided he might be able to do the same and began building the Moon River Theater, which opened in 1992. Andy was the first non-country act to come to Branson and his success brought many others, including the Welk Theater, The Osmond Brothers and Bobbie Vinton.

Andy is survived by Debbie, his wife of 21 years; three children, Noelle, Christian and Bobby; six grandchildren; and his brothers, Don and Dick.

Debbie was fortunate enough to have spent 26 wonderful years with Andy.  They built a lakefront home in Branson, and enjoyed playing golf and experiencing the seasons in the Ozarks. Debbie would like to thank everyone for the outpouring of love and affection, which has been overwhelming.

Andy's Moon River Theatre gave him some of the most joyous moments of his career. He gave his heart and soul to his fans and he will forever remain "Your Huckleberry Friend".

Memorial service will be private.

In lieu of flowers, donations can be made to Bladder Cancer Advocacy Network at