'Moon River' singer Andy Williams dies

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ST. LOUIS — Andy Williams, the silky-voiced, clean-cut crooner, whose hit recording “Moon River” and years of popular Christmas TV shows brought him fans the world over has died, his publicist said. He was 84.

Williams died Tuesday night at his home in Branson following a yearlong battle with bladder cancer, his Los Angeles-based publicist, Paul Shefrin, said Wednesday.

With an easy style and a mellow voice that President Ronald Reagan once termed “a national treasure,” Williams proved ideal for television.

“The Andy Williams Show,” which lasted in various formats from 1957 to 1971, featured Williams alternately performing his stable of easy-listening ballads and bantering casually with his guest stars. He received 18 gold and three platinum albums over his long career and was nominated for five Grammy awards. He released an autobiography in 2009, “Moon River and Me: A Memoir.”

It was on that show that Williams — who launched his own career as part of an all-brother quartet — introduced the world to the original four singing Osmond Brothers of Utah. Their younger sibling Donny also made his debut on Williams’ show, in 1963 when he was 6 years old.

He was connected with scandal only once — indirectly — when his ex-wife, former Las Vegas showgirl Claudine Longet, shot her lover, skiing champion Spider Sabich, to death in 1976. The Rolling Stones mocked the tragedy in the song “Claudine.”

Longet, who said it was an accident, spent only a week in jail, and Williams provided support for her and their children, Noelle, Christian and Robert.

Born in Wall Lake, Iowa, on Dec. 3, 1927, Howard Andrew Williams began performing with his older brothers Dick, Bob and Don in the local Presbyterian church choir when he was 8. Their father, a postal worker, was the choirmaster. He continued to perform even after announcing his bladder cancer diagnosis in 2011.

Williams is survived by his wife, Debbie, and his three children, Robert, Noelle and Christian.

Texas judge orders DNA tests in Hemsley death

EL PASO, Texas — A Texas judge has ordered DNA testing on a man who claims to be the brother of the late “The Jeffersons” star Sherman Hemsley.

Richard Thornton is challenging the validity of Hemsley’s will, which names the actor’s longtime manager, Flora Enchinton of El Paso, as sole beneficiary. Hemsley died of lung cancer July 24.

Judge Patricia Chew on Monday rescheduled the El Paso trial on Hemsley’s estate to begin Oct. 31.

Thornton, of Philadelphia, sought the DNA testing and must provide results by Oct. 15. Court documents indicate Hemsley’s estate is worth more than $50,000.

J.K. Rowling’s debut novel for adults worth a read

So look, here’s the thing: This. Is. Not. A. Children’s. Book. If you’re looking for what made Harry Potter magical — Wizards! Spells! Flying Broomsticks! — you’re not going to find it.

If you’re looking for what makes J.K. Rowling magical — emotion, heart — you will.

“The Casual Vacancy” is the first novel written for adults from Rowling, the successful-beyond-belief author behind the “Harry Potter” series about the young boy who discovers he’s a wizard.

Published in the U.S. by Little, Brown and Company and in Britain by Little, Brown Book Group, “The Casual Vacancy” is scheduled to come out Thursday and has been held under tight control, with media outlets required to sign non-disclosure agreements before being permitted to see the book.

The Associated Press declined to sign such an agreement and instead purchased a copy early.

Already at No. 2 on Amazon, the book has gotten early buzz from references to sex and drugs that might be a tad mature for the youngest “Potter” fans.

It’s set in the small British village of Pagford, and tells the story of what happens after the unexpected death of a town official leaves a vacancy on the town’s governing body. A long-simmering conflict over what the solidly middle-class village should do about the residents of a poverty-stricken, drug- and crime-infested housing project on the edge of town gets heated, interwoven with the personal lives and problems of Rowling’s characters.

This isn’t a book that’s easy to fall in love with, the way Harry Potter was with its charming, winning hero and his plucky friends, saving the world from evil with the help of a powerful spell or two.

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