Follow us on Facebook Follow us on Twitter Watch us on Youtube Join the Archive Mailing List Read our Blog

The Andy Williams Show: "Rockin' With Andy"

March 29, 2015 - 3:00 pm
Dan Einstein, television archivist; Randy Yantek, digital media strategist—UCLA Film & Television Archive.

The Andy Williams Show: "Rockin' With Andy"

NBC, 9/16/62—7/17/71

Andy Williams was born to be on television.  A supremely gifted singer and an affable, low-key host, he graced American TV screens almost continually from the late 1950s through the 1970s, lending a calm, comfortable dignity to an often turbulent era.  Born in Wall Lake, Iowa on December 3, 1927, Williams began singing with his three brothers in the local Presbyterian church choir and at the age of eight, made his professional debut as part of the Williams Brothers Quartet.  A popular attraction on Des Moines radio station WHO’s “Iowa Barn Dance” program in the late 1930s, the boys soon became known to wider audiences via stations in Cincinnati and Chicago.  They eventually caught the attention of Bing Crosby, and with the crooning superstar made their first professional recording, “Swinging on a Star,” which was a national hit in 1944.  Three years later, the brothers teamed up with performer Kay Thompson (future author of the popular Eloise children’s book series) for a highly successful nightclub act.  However, in 1951 the Williams Brothers disbanded and Andy moved to New York to pursue a solo career.  He soon joined the cast of ABCTV’s The College Bowl, a short-lived, live musical comedy series set in a campus soda shop run by Chico Marx.

In 1954 he began a two-and-a-half-year stint as a regular performer on Steve Allen’s Tonight Show, a breakthrough gig, which led to his first recording contract.  A string of hit records followed as did more television work.  In 1962 he signed with Columbia Records and recorded the Top 10 hits “Can’t Get Used to Losing You,” “The Days of Wine and Roses,” and the record that was to become his theme song, “Moon River.”  His own one-hour series, The Andy Williams Show, debuted on NBC on September 16, 1962 and quickly became a ratings winner that lasted for nine years, won three Emmys for Outstanding Variety Series, and established the cardigan wearing singer as one of television’s most endearing and enduring personalities.  Although the first years of the program featured few appearances by rock music acts (The Beach Boys, The Supremes, Chad & Jeremy), Williams was a firm supporter of the rock ‘n’ roll scene, as demonstrated by his public support of John Lennon in the former Beatle’s fight to remain in the U.S.

When The Andy Williams Show returned to weekly television after a two-year hiatus in 1969, producers Chris Bearde and Allan Blye took it in a new direction, one with a decidedly psychedelic look and feel, and with major rock, soul, folk, country and contemporary pop acts appearing on a regular basis.

Working from original master 2” tapes placed with the Archive by Andy Williams and the Williams family, the Archive has lovingly put together a program focusing on Williams and his young musical guests, among them the aforementioned Beach Boys, Supremes, and Chad & Jeremy, along with such luminaries as Creedence Clearwater Revival, The Ike & Tina Turner Revue, Johnny Cash, Elton John, The Jackson Five, The Rascals, Peter, Paul & Mary, Dusty Springfield, Sly & The Family Stone, Bobbie Gentry, Simon & Garfunkel, Aretha Franklin, Sonny & Cher, and many others.  —Dan Einstein & Randy Yantek

Barnaby Productions, Inc. (1962-67); Barnaby Productions in association with Bearde/Blye Productions (1969-71).  Producers: Alan Bernard, Chris Bearde, Allan Blye, Bob Finkel, Jack Goode, Mort Green, Bob Henry, Norman Lear, Norman Morrell, Edward Stephenson, Andy Williams, Bud Yorkin.  Directors: Art Fisher, Rita Gillespie, Mort Green, Bob Henry, Robert Scheerer, Bud Yorkin.  Writers: John Aylesworth, Chris Bearde, Allan Blye, Al Cohn, Harry Crane, Sam Denoff, Bob Einstein, Rich Eustis, Mort Green, Don Hinkley, Steve Martin, Larry Murray, Bill Persky, Frank Peppiatt, Ray Reese, Ray Stevens, Mason Williams.  Music Directors: Jack Elliott, Allyn Ferguson, Dave Grusin, Jimmie Haskell, Henry Mancini, George Wyle.  Host: Andy Williams.  DigiBeta, color, approx. 120 min.

Preserved from the original 2” master videotapes.  Video transfers at DC Video and Retro Video.  The Andy Williams Show courtesy of Barnaby Productions.