Friday, December 12, 2008

The Most Wonderful Guy of the Year

Pop singer Andy Williams is known as "Mr. Christmas," due to unmistakably smooth renditions of on many much-loved holiday standards, specifically The Most Wonderful Time of The Year. But in my opinion, it was his holiday TV shows and specials that solidified this title.
After hosting a  short-lived half-hour ABC show in 1958 featuring Dick Van Dyke, this undeniably handsome crooner became the star of his own hour-long weekly CBS show during the summer of 1959. In 1962 NBC awarded him an ongoing series, which ran, more or less until 1971.
While never a Top 20 hit, the show proved very popular no matter what competition it faced. In it's debut season, NBC aired it Thursdays at 10PM, opposite CBS's ALFRED HITCHCOCK PRSENTS. For seasons 2 and 3, the show was moved to Tuesdays at 10PM, alternating with the BELL TELEPHONE HOUR. THE ANDY WILLIAMS SHOW returned to a weekly schedule in 1965, when it was moved to Monday at 9PM-opposite THE ANDY GRIFFITH SHOW, creating the infamous "Battle of the Andys". The show then became part of NBC's Disney-led Sunday night line-up in 1966. 
The show took two seasons off and returned on Saturdays at 7:30PM for a final two years. In total, the show went on to win three Emmy Awards for outstanding variety program (1963, 1966 and 1967). While each week was jam-packed with great songs and fabulous production numbers featuring top knotch guest stars, the absolute highlight of each season, of course, was the annual Christmas show. Even after the series ended, through the early 70s, Andy's Christmas specials were among the most popular of the season, setting the tone and format which many others have copied and parodied ever since.The Osmond Brothers, who Williams "discovered" performing in Disneyland made their TV debut on the 1962 Christmas show, and stayed with Andy for the rest of his run. Andy's wife, the lovely French chanteuse Claudine Longet and their three children, Noelle, Christian, and Robert all appeared on the Christmas shows. For more about Claudine go here. I guess part of what made his holiday shows so special was the appearances by Andy's family, notably his very talented brothers.
The visual of these guys singing in harmony wearing matching sweaters has had a profound effect on me over the years. Here's a photo from my annual Christmas shindig:So, when you get the Christmas blues or are sad because you can't afford to buy any gifts for your friends or family this year, just think of Andy's warm, comforting voice and it will bring you back to a time when the TV landscape was littered with so many magical hours of song, dance and cornball comedy. Luckily some of that magic has be captured and is now available on dvd (or on your local PBS station).In addition, Williams has recorded eight Christmas albums over the years and has performed in his own theater in Branson, Missouri since 1992. Here a great little (and totally unauthorized) compilation that I came across on YouTube.


Maddie said...

The Williams' Mom must have been so proud of her boys. Very joyful.

Vintage Disneyland Tickets said...

Amazing post, I grew up watching the Andy Williams show, what a class act.! Your posts are spectacular, detailed and well thought out, I'm envious.... in a nice way. Gotta love the Williams brothers, I was in a bit of a slump this morning, listing to them took me right out of it, Thanks!

Anonymous said...

There are some great
Branson shows!