Thursday, September 27, 2012

Legendobit: Andy Williams

As you'd expect, there's a lot of love online for Andy Williams today.

Edward Eveld in the Kanasa City Star visits his home of Branson, Missouri:

Raeanne Presley, Branson mayor and a member of the family that owns Presleys’ Country Jubilee, said Wednesday was a sad day for the city, which lost both a legendary entertainer and a staunch Branson supporter.
[...]
“Around town he always had a wonderful smile that looked like he knew a little bit of a secret,” Presley said. “He was the snappiest dresser in town, always wearing some cool tennis shoes.”

Williams grew enamored with Branson in 1991 on a visit to see his friend, Ray Stevens. Soon after he built a 48,000-square-foot theater building that won a state conservation award for its setting. The Williams family built a home overlooking Lake Taneycomo and also had a home in La Quinta, Calif.
Williams had chosen to move to Branson in 1991; Ray Stevens was already living there and introduced him to the town.

It's not just where he lived at the end that he was adored. The Aiken Standard gathered memories from the town he left in 1985:
Former S.C. Rep. Skipper Perry worked at Houndslake's Country Club in the '70s the first time he met Williams. When Perry purchased Palmetto Package Shop downtown, the two reconnected when Williams started shopping there.
"My experiences with him were, No. 1, he was a gentlemen; No. 2, he drank good wine and champagne and No. 3, Aiken was a place where people wouldn't bother him," Perry said.
Aiken resident Rosamund McDuffie met Williams during his time in Aiken, as well.
"We will all miss him terribly," McDuffie said. "I do appreciate the fact that he was here ... He was a very honorable character. He was very good and easy to be around."
For the Star Tribune, Barry ZeVan recalled a backstage encounter in 1970:
Bob said I should just go backstage, knock on Andy's dressing room door and we could have the meeting. I did what Bob suggested. In those days, security was a little less stringent, and because of my television visibility, the security guards kindly recognized me and allowed us to get right to Andy's dressing room door. I knocked. Andy answered in about 10 seconds, "Yeah? What do you want", he asked. I said, "I'm a friend of Bob Finkel, and Bob said he thought it would be okay if my daughters and I said hello to you in person after tonight's show". He immediately (warmly, with a very big smile) welcomed us into his dressing room, he asked me about my history with Bob, the girls got his autograph, we had a nice, short visit, and left. That was that, and I never saw Andy face-to-face again.
What comes across in all of the small, personal stories is a man who made time to make other people feel special. These little, passing tales of kind words and making time probably explain as much about why he was still performing, still popular after such a long career as all the other analysis of his talents.

But, clearly, the voice helped as well.


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