BRANSON, Mo. (CBSNewYork/AP) – Emmy-winning TV host and “Moon River” crooner Andy Williams has died at age 84.
The silky-voiced singer died Tuesday night at his home in Branson, Mo., following a year-long battle with bladder cancer, his publicist, Paul Shefrin, said Wednesday.
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Williams said in November 2011 that he was diagnosed with bladder cancer but planned to continue performing at the namesake theater he built in Branson in 1992.
The clean-cut Iowa native began singing with his brothers as a child, and his easy style and mellow voice led President Ronald Reagan to call Williams “a national treasure.”
Though his version of “Moon River” made him world famous, it was among his many hits, including “Butterfly” and “Can’t Get Used to Losing You.”
Williams was most famous for his Christmas specials but he was a versatile entertainer whose career in music and television lasted more than eight decades.
Williams was born in the tiny town of Wall Lake, Iowa and by the age of seven was singing with his three brothers on the radio. The brothers stayed together until Williams decided to go solo in 1953.
He got a job singing on Steve Allen’s “Tonight Show” before his popularity helped him get his own TV program.
“The Andy Williams Show,” which lasted in various formats through the 1960s and into 1971, won three Emmys and featured Williams alternately performing his stable of hits and bantering with guest stars.
Williams married dancer Claudine Longet in 1961; they had three children and the family would sometimes appear on his Christmas specials.
The couple divorced in 1975 but remained friends.
Williams remarried in 1991 and moved to Branson where he opened the Moon River Theater. He continued performing there into his 80s attracting generations of fans from around the world.
Williams is survived by his wife, Debbie, and his three children, Robert, Noelle and Christian.
(TM and Copyright 2012 CBS Radio Inc. and its relevant subsidiaries. CBS RADIO and EYE Logo TM and Copyright 2012 CBS Broadcasting Inc. Used under license. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. The Associated Press contributed to this report.)