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'Moon River' Crooner Andy Williams Dies
Andy Williams, the award-winning singer of Moon River and Can't Take My Eyes Off You, has died aged 84.
The legendary crooner and TV host died at his home in Missouri following a year-long battle with bladder cancer, his publicist, Paul Shefrin, said.
Williams began singing with his brothers as a child in Iowa, and his easy style and mellow voice led former US president Ronald Reagan to call him "a national treasure".
In November 2011 Williams announced to an audience of fans that he had been diagnosed with bladder cancer.
Speaking at the Moon River Theatre he founded in Branson, Missouri, he vowed to return to performing the following year, his 75th in showbusiness.
After their early start with the local Presbyterian church choir in Iowa, the Williams brothers eventually joined Bing Crosby in recording the hit Swinging On A Star in 1944 for Crosby's film Going My Way.
Williams initially struggled as a solo act and was so broke at one point that he resorted to eating food intended for his two dogs.
He became a major star the same year as Elvis Presley, 1956, with the Sinatra-like swing number Canadian Sunset.
Over the next few decades he notched up 18 gold records and three platinum, was nominated for five Grammy awards and hosted the Grammy ceremonies for several years.
Movie songs became a speciality, from the Love Story theme and Days Of Wine And Roses to Moon River, his most famous song although it was never released as a single.
Although Moon River was covered by countless artists, Williams made it his personal brand. In fact, he insisted on it.
"When I hear anybody else sing it, it's all I can to do stop myself from shouting at the television screen, 'No! That's my song!'" Williams wrote in his 2009 memoir, titled Moon River And Me.
The Andy Williams Show, which lasted in various formats on television through the 1960s and into 1971, won three Emmys and featured Williams alternately performing his stable of hits and bantering casually with his guest stars.
Williams' unflappable manner on television and in concert was mirrored offstage.
"I guess I've never really been aggressive, although almost everybody else in show business fights and gouges and knees to get where they want to be," he once said. "My trouble is, I'm not constructed temperamentally along those lines."
His wholesome image endured one jarring interlude. In 1976, his ex-wife, former Las Vegas showgirl Claudine Longet, shot and killed her lover, skiing champion Spider Sabich.
Longet, who said it was an accident, spent only a week in jail. Williams stood by her. He even escorted her to the courthouse and testified on her behalf.