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Larry King Live

Andy Williams Discusses His Return to Singing

Aired August 22, 2000 - 9:00 p.m. ET

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.

LARRY KING, HOST: Tonight, a throat problem stopped his music for months. But now, Andy Williams is set to signing again. The "Moon River" man for the full hour next on LARRY KING LIVE.

Good evening from Los Angeles, another addition of LARRY KING LIVE. We're taking a break from politics -- I guess we've had enough for a while -- to talk with one of our favorite people, 72 years young, Andy Williams, returns to singing on the night of September 8 when he opens at his own Moon River theater in Branson, Missouri, a special seven-week run, two shows nightly, six nights a week. His special guest is Glen Campbell. We're all glad to see him back on the boards, because he has not sung since last October. So let's start right from there, and he's with us for the full hour. We'll be taking your calls, et cetera.

What happened?

ANDY WILLIAMS, MUSICIAN: I developed a node in my throat last October. I had laryngitis. As you know, if you have laryngitis, the only way -- if it's really bad, the only way you can get any sound out of it is if you force it.

KING: Correct.

WILLIAMS: So I did, and...

KING: While singing?

WILLIAMS: While singing. I didn't want to -- I at least wanted to get through that show. But its was the a wrong move on my part. And I developed this node, went to a doctor, took pictures of it. You could see it, big bump on the vocal cord. And a couple people wanted to operate right away. Fortunately, I went to a guy at UCLA, Dr. Burke (ph), who wasn't to anxious to operate, which is a nice thing about the doctor.

KING: Were you looking for someone who wouldn't operate -- was that...

WILLIAMS: You know, you know that I was. And he said, I don't think you know this will happen, but if you don't sing for a while, can you not sing for how long? I said, well, I'm supposed to do a tour of England in January, but I can cancel it. So he said, well, if you don't sing for three months, come back and see me and we'll take another picture. And I did.

Three months later, there was still a node there, but it was gone about half. He said, how much loner can you go without singing? I said, I can go until next fall, when I should come back. He said, well, come back and see me in two months and we'll take another look. I came back, and it was still there. So he said, if you don't sing for a while and just, you know, voice rest, don't talk too much, come back three months. So I came back in three months and it was all gone, so I didn't have to have an operation, and...

KING: Do we ever know, or will we ever know, why it was there?

WILLIAMS: Because of singing when I shouldn't have been singing.

KING: In other words if you have a bad -- if you have laryngitis?

WILLIAMS: If you have laryngitis very badly you shouldn't try -- shouldn't really get through the show, and I was doing two hours shows alone, and it was too much, and I could feel something happening. I just felt, something went wrong there, and I didn't want to have an operation if I didn't have to.

KING: You were scared?

WILLIAMS: I wasn't really scared, but I was concerned. I called Julie Andrews, who, as you probably remember, had just gone through that.

KING: She had surgery.

WILLIAMS: She had surgery. So I called her, and I said I'm -- Julie, I'm in the same position you were. I have a node on my throat and have you any suggestions? She said, "Don't use my doctor."

(LAUGHTER)

KING: She's suing, isn't she?

WILLIAMS: I guess she is. I think kiddingly she said, "Don't use my doctor."

KING: Well, maybe I'm wrong; maybe she isn't.

What is a node?

WILLIAMS: It's a bump on the vocal cord.

KING: Not a cancer?

WILLIAMS: Not a cancer.

KING: Is it a polyp?

WILLIAMS: It's like a polyp. I don't really know the difference between a polyp and a node, but it's a bump the vocal -- and as you know, if the vocal cords are rubbed together, they make a sound, and when there's a bump there, at some point when you're singing, it comes to that bump, it doesn't make a sound. So you have to remove it some way or let it go way.

KING: So what could you feel that night that was wrong other than just -- you've had laryngitis before.

WILLIAMS: Yes, but I've never sung really through it, you know. I just felt something, really kind of a straining thing, just was like something I knew was wrong.

KING: Did audience know it.

WILLIAMS: No. I mean, they knew I had laryngitis, there is no doubt about that, and I explained to them I had -- as much as I could, I couldn't talk either. I don't know why I didn't say go away and go see you know, somebody else tonight.

KING: Go down the street, there's more another theaters here, right?

WILLIAMS: But I didn't want to disappoint. You know, a lot of people come to Branson. They plan in advance, maybe sometimes three or four months. In these cases, September, October, November, December, they have a lot of buses, and we may have had 40 or 50 buses that night. People planning to come a year ahead of time, and I didn't want to disappoint these people, really. That's really the reason I did it.

KING: Other doctors said they should cut, right? They wanted to take it out?

WILLIAMS: Yes, because it was obvious, it was there.

KING: Bing Crosby said once that he had a polyp removed and it helped his voice, no, when he was young, it made it deeper, created a lot of that sound he could get.

WILLIAMS: Well, that may have been before he was well-known and he developed the sound, is that right?

KING: Yes, before.

WILLIAMS: Mine is very well-known, and...

KING: You don't want your voice.

WILLIAMS: I didn't want it to suddenly sound like Bing Crosby.

KING: Did you fear cancer?

WILLIAMS: No.

KING: Never feared it?

WILLIAMS: Never feared that at all. And immediately, the first night I went to -- said, it isn't cancerous, but you really should have it removed, but...

KING: Glad you didn't.

WILLIAMS: I'm glad I didn't, yes.

KING: What -- are you nervous about October 8 -- September 8, I'm sorry? That's not far away.

WILLIAMS: September 8. I'm always nervous opening night anyway. But no, you know, I have been singing in the shower. I -- you sound great in the shower, I'm sure.

KING: You sound great to yourself, right?

WILLIAMS: Yes.

KING: No difference?

WILLIAMS: No difference.

KING: Are you singing as good as you ever did?

WILLIAMS: No.

KING: What changed?

WILLIAMS: Age, you know.

KING: Can't hit the notes?

WILLIAMS: No, I can hit the notes.

KING: what happens when a singer...

WILLIAMS: I don't know. You know, Sinatra didn't sing as good when he was 70 as he did when he was about 40.

KING: But he had a range thing.

WILLIAMS: That was his best -- I think the best time that I ever sang was in the '60s and '70s, and then it's just a matter of you still sing good, but you don't sing -- you're voice isn't quite as good as it was before.

KING: Are you a tenor?

WILLIAMS: Yes.

KING: Strange that a famous balladeer would be tenor, right, that most of them are baritones?

WILLIAMS: Well, they used to have a lot of tenors, like Dennis Day, and -- there are a lot of tenors.

KING: Morton Downey. WILLIAMS: Yes, Morton Downey. Then it became very baritone and bass, you know, Bing Crosby and Sinatra, all of them, then it changed all around; now it's very high. I mean, Michael Jackson and all the rock singers, they're all higher, they sing very high.

KING: Our guest is Andy Williams. He's with us for the full hour. What a career. How many people started their careers with Andy Williams? How many guests has he had on one of the most famous television shows ever done in America? We'll talk about that, and Branson and lots of other things, and we're happy to report he is A- OK.

We'll be right back with Andy after this.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP, "THE BEST OF THE ANDY WILLIAMS SHOW")

WILLIAMS & BING CROSBY, MUSICIAN: Will you be true to me? And she signed. Many skies have turned to gray because she's in my heart. Many moons have passed away because she's in my heart. We made a promise and sealed it with a kiss, in a little Spanish town, in a little Spanish town, in a little Spanish town, it was on a night like this.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP, "THE BEST OF THE ANDY WILLIAMS SHOW")

WILLIAMS, EDDIE FISHER & BOBBY DARREN, MUSICIANS: So, a needle pulling thread, la, a note to follow so, ti, a drink with jam and bread, that will bring us back to so, la, fa, mi, do, re.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

KING: If you didn't know, of course, that was Eddie Fisher on left, Andy in the middle, and the great Bobby Darren on the right. All that, by the way, was from the "Andy Williams Show." How many years was that on?

WILLIAMS: Nine years, nine years.

KING: And they're going to release a VHS and a DVD, right?

WILLIAMS: That's right.

KING: Highlights of those shows.

WILLIAMS: Highlights, yes. It's called "The Best of the Andy Williams Show," and really my favorite things, Jerry Lewis and Bing. We saw a little bit of Bing.

KING: Eddie Fisher, Sammy Davis Jr., Judy Garland -- they all came on "Andy Williams." WILLIAMS: They all came on, and, Larry, just terrific. I mean, we don't have that kind of musical variety shows on right now like they used to have with my show, and Dean Martin and Perry Como. It's a different time now. But those numbers were so well recorded and so beautifully -- the sound was so great, Bill Kohl (ph), the engineer on the show, and did a lot of shows for NBC, but he was absolutely best. When you think about the fact that there was -- this was all live. There was microphone above your head this far away, an orchestra 30 feet away, choir over or near the orchestra, and it came together, it was just amazing.

KING: When is it coming out?

WILLIAMS: It's coming out in November.

KING: "The Best of the Andy Williams Show."

WILLIAMS: Yes

KING: Should be a smash just looking this, looking at black and white is a smash.

WILLIAMS: Yes, but this is all in color.

KING: Yes, it is.

WILLIAMS: Yes, all of it.

KING: It's terrific, though, to see vintage television, you know, when they were doing it. It was harder to do that, too.

WILLIAMS: Much harder, but it's alive, and it feels alive. A lot of things today don't sound quite as alive.

KING: Andy, you were a brother act.

WILLIAMS: I was.

KING: In fact, you sang background on Bing Cosby's hit song "Swinging on a Star," right? You were a kid.

WILLIAMS: I was about 15 years old, and, John Scott Trotter, who is Bing's arranger and conductor and things, they were going to record the "Swinging on a Star" from a movie, I guess "Going My Way" was the name of it.

KING: Would like to swing on a star?

WILLIAMS: Carry moonbeams home in a jar?

KING: Be better off than you are?

So you sang behind him?

WILLIAMS: So they had a boys choir in the movie.

KING: Yes, that's right.

WILLIAMS: And apparently, they couldn't get boys choir, and John Scott Trotter heard about the Williams Brothers, and we came in, he handed us some music, and we did a couple takes on it and made this record, "Swinging on a Star." It became, I guess, one of Bing's, you know, biggest hits.

KING: And then you actually stood there with him and sung, right?

WILLIAMS: Yes.

KING: Now you do four different tracks for the Williams Brothers.

WILLIAMS: That's right. Now it's quite different.

KING: And there are the Williams Brothers. What happened to them?

WILLIAMS: They're still alive.

KING: All three of them?

WILLIAMS: Yes, all of them. My brother Bob is retired, lives up near Bakersfield, between Bakersfield and Fresno, has horses, terrific, well. My brother Don lives in Branson, where I live. He's the reason that I came to Branson in the first place.

KING: he you got go there?

WILLIAMS: Yes, because, you know, it was all country, everything was country.

KING: So you're the first non-country?

WILLIAMS: Right. And he a handled guy named Ray Stevens (ph) at the time. And Ray Stevens, as you know, a great country artist. And he opened a theater there, and it was a wonderful theater. And Don said, I'd really like you to come down and see Ray, and ray is a friend of mine. So I did. And I thought, well, why go to -- I didn't know of Branson. You know, a lot of people didn't know of Branson, but I didn't know it. I thought it was -- I wanted go down and see Ray anyway, and I fell in love with the town, fell in love with Ray's theater, and decided then I wanted to build a theater.

KING: And the other brother?

WILLIAMS: My other brother still lives there, he's sort of semiretired, he handles some people, but...

KING: So there's Bob.

WILLIAMS: Bob is up with the horses.

KING: Ray is in Branson. WILLIAMS: No, Ray has left Branson. But Don, my brother Don is in Branson.

KING: And where is Ray?

WILLIAMS: Ray is in Nashville.

KING: Why did act break up?

WILLIAMS: With the brothers.

KING: Yes.

WILLIAMS: Well, we only had the act with Kay Thompson (ph).

KING: I remember that well.

WILLIAMS: and, I don't know, I think we just sort of got tired of looking at each other.

KING: It wasn't that there was disharmony?

WILLIAMS: No, not all. Television had come in and sort of at that time, there was a period of time when Milton Berle was taking all the people away for nightclubs, and we just decided we kind of had enough of it.

KING: Did they get jealous when you got so famous as a singer?

WILLIAMS: No, not at all

KING: Never did? You never heard like...

KING: Never, you know. I would have stayed with the group forever, because that's all I was going to be was a group singer, that's all I thought I probably would ever be. My brother Bob wanted -- he had three young children then, he wanted to just stay at home, and he got in the insurance business, and started raising horses and taking care of citrus and stuff up in that area. Don wanted to be actor. He went to Columbia Pictures as a contract actor, and he eventually became an agent, and then he became a manager. My brother, Dick, he wanted to sing with a band, always wanted to sing. We were all together, my brothers and I. He wanted to sing with a band. he went with Harry James's band two years, and then, when I went on the "Steve Allen Tonight Show" at night, he was on the "Tennessee Ernie Ford Television" show during the daytime.

KING: did you have a -- how -- what was your first hit record as a single?

WILLIAMS: First hit record, real big hit record, was called "Butterfly."

KING: I remember that song, late '50s.

WILLIAMS: And Archie Blyer, who was the head of company, said, do you want to have a hit? I said, well, course, I want a hit. I had just, you know, gone with label. He said, well, here's a song I'm sure is a hit. But it really was kind of like a rock 'n' roll song.

KING: Yes, but it had that sound...

WILLIAMS: Yes.

KING: Right?

WILLIAMS: So I got an Elvis Presley record, and I went home and I sang with it, I wasn't very a good at imitating, so I didn't sound like Elvis, but I sang in that kind of rock 'n' roll thing, which wasn't really what I was used to doing.

KING: That was a great song.

WILLIAMS: But he was right. It was a big hit.

KING: Andy Williams is the guest. He's with us for the full hour. He's coming back to Branson September 8. We'll be taking your phone calls for Andy. We'll be back right after this.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP, "THE BEST OF THE ANDY WILLIAMS SHOW")

UNIDENTIFIED MUSICIAN (singing): No cares.

WILLIAMS (singing): No cares.

UNIDENTIFIED MUSICIAN: No strings.

WILLIAMS: Has wings.

UNIDENTIFIED MUSICIAN: Has wings.

WILLIAMS & UNIDENTIFIED MUSICIAN (singing): If I am fancy-free and love to wander, it's just the gypsy in my soul.

WILLIAMS: There is something calling me.

UNIDENTIFIED MUSICIAN: I know it's got to be.

WILLIAMS & UNIDENTIFIED MUSICIAN: I know it's as got to be the gypsy in my soul.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP, "THE BEST OF THE ANDY WILLIAMS SHOW")

JERRY LEWIS, COMEDIAN: How do you do "Moon River?" Give me a clue.

(MUSIC)

WILLIAMS (singing): Moon River, wider than a mile. LEWIS: And you take the money just like that, is that it?

(LAUGHTER)

WILLIAMS: I don't think you should move to much.

LEWIS: Could I just tell you how you can do this? I mean, respectfully, may I just...

WILLIAMS: I would love to learn.

LEWIS: All right.

(singing): Say moon river high tide.

(LAUGHTER)

LEWIS: Try that.

WILLIAMS (singing): Say moon river high tide.

(LAUGHTER)

LEWIS: That was all right, it was all right, but I still feel like you're scared.

WILLIAMS: I'm not used to being yelled at.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

KING: Did everybody go on -- everybody went on "Andy Williams."

WILLIAMS: Just about. And Jerry was a little -- scary to work with Jerry.

KING: Why?

WILLIAMS: Well, because he's so brilliant, No. 1, and No. 2, he doesn't want to rehearse, and I like to know what I'm doing all the time, I like to rehearse. I mean, I want to know what I'm saying, what I'm do, but with him, you couldn't, so I didn't know -- you know, we knew he was going say, how do you do this, I'm going to sing that, and I didn't know what he was going to do, and I would have to do what he said, and -- but it's really fun.

KING: You went on with Steve Allen when he hosted "The Tonight Show," right?

WILLIAMS: I was.

KING: Was that one of your first, like...

 WILLIAMS: That was the first break that I had in television. 

KING: You also brought the Osmonds to television.

WILLIAMS: That was later when I had my show, yes.

KING: How did you discover them?

WILLIAMS: My father called me, and he said, I know these four boys, I saw them on a show from Disneyland, amateur show on Saturday morning, they're the same age as you and brothers were when you were little, and I want you to put them on the show, and I said yes, sir, and I did.

KING: So you put them on. That wasn't -- Marie wasn't on, just the boys?

WILLIAMS: Marie wasn't on, even Donny wasn't on, because Jay was the youngest. And I put them on, and thought I'll to this for my father, and I'll put them on and I'll get it over with. And we got so much mail and so many letters, I mean, phone calls, and switch boards lit up, and it was absolutely amazing. So naturally, I said, how you would guys like to come back tomorrow, the next week, you know. They rehearsed starting on Monday, and they came back the next week, and I didn't say anything, and they came back the next week, and they stayed with me for five, or six or seven years. I can't remember how long it was. It was long a long time.

KING: And Donny and Marie came along.

WILLIAMS: And Donny and Marie came along in the meantime, and that's on this video, too, when Donny first...

KING: Were they a hit right away?

WILLIAMS: Who Donny and Marie?

KING: Yes.

WILLIAMS: Well, they were, you know, Marie was 3 years old, and Donny was only 6, or 7. But they were terrific. I mean, they could do anything, and they just grew on the show. They would do anything that Nick Castle asked him. Dancing -- they hadn't danced before, but they had could pick it up like that.

KING: And in between, did you go out singing in clubs, too?

WILLIAMS: No I would go state fairs and do concerts, and would go out with Henry Mancini and do a tour in the summer, and almost always took the Osmond Brothers with me.

KING: Was "Moon River" the biggest?

WILLIAMS: No. Biggest record I ever had was "Love Story," only because it was such a big hit all around the world. And on love story, I recorded that in about six different languages. For instance, in Japan, it sold over a half million copies in Japanese, and I sold over half a million in English, and it did pretty much the same in Italian, that not as much in French, in Spanish.

KING: How many hits did you have? What they call hits, gold records?

WILLIAMS: Well, albums? I think 18, 18 gold.

KING: And singles, you had a lot of singles.

WILLIAMS: Never had a single gold.

KING: You never had single gold.

WILLIAMS: Never had a single gold. I had -- for instance, we had...

KING: "Moon River" was not a gold.

WILLIAMS: I never ever recorded it as a single. I didn't record it. I took the record, because I saw Henry Mancini, Johnny Mercer in the Scala Restaurant in Beverly Hills. You know that.

KING: Sure.

WILLIAMS: And had just come back from recording Audrey Hepburn in "Breakfast at Tiffany's." They had music with them, the score, and I went over and said hello to Henry and Johnny, and they said, this is a song, you've got to do it. So I took it back to New York with me Archie Blyer, he said, I don't think that's a hit. I said, well why? I mean, you love him. I love him, but I don't think "My Huckleberry Friend" is a lyric that kids will go for, and you know, I don't think it will be a hit. Henry Mancini had million seller with it as an instrumental. Then Jerry Butler came along and had a million seller with vocal, and I never had one.

KING: But you're the most identifiable with it.

WILLIAMS: Because the academy of -- Motion Picture Academy called me and said, will you sing it on the Academy Awards?

KING: And that's what did it?

WILLIAMS: And I knew six months ahead that -- I mean, six weeks ahead that I was going to do show, and I called Columbia, and I said, they want me to sing "Moon River," we all know it's going to win because it was a big record, and it was very important in the picture. So I said, why don't we record an album? So went in and recorded an album in a couple of weeks called "Moon River and Other Movie Themes." It had all of the great movie themes it in, and had it in stores the day I sang it at the Academy Awards. It sold half a million copies the next day, albums.

KING: Back with Andy Williams. The name of theater is the Moon River Theater.

More after this.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

(SINGING) (COMMERCIAL BREAK)

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP, "THE BEST OF THE ANDY WILLIAMS SHOW")

SAMMY DAVIS JR, MUSICIAN: Ain't these the horses you rustled in front of that supermarket.

WILLIAMS: That is right.

DAVIS: All right, then. How do you get these things going?

WILLIAMS: You just feed them.

DAVIS: Give me a dime.

WILLIAMS: Here, there you are.

DAVIS: Thank you very much.

DAVIS (singing): I'm an old cow hand.

WILLIAMS (singing): I'm an old cow hand.

DAVIS: From the Rio Grande.

WILLIAMS: From the Rio Grande.

DAVIS: And my legs ain't bowed.

WILLIAMS: It's just the way he stands.

DAVIS AND WILLIAMS (singing): We're two gun guys when we go to town, we used to wear six when we rolled around, we have to stop, but my pants fell down, yippee yi-yo. One more time. Yippee yi-yo.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

KING: We're back with Andy Williams.

Wow.

WILLIAMS: Sammy was so much fun to work with.

KING: Wasn't he?

WILLIAMS: Oh, he was great.

KING: I still remember him sitting right where you're sitting.

WILLIAMS: Oh, right here?

KING: Yes, about a year before he died. He'd come out of the surgery and thought he was going to lick it. Smoked too much.

WILLIAMS: He was on my show several times, each time, was each time it was like a party. He would come in with his valet, George. KING: Yes, George.

WILLIAMS: And George would bring a portable bar with him. And Sammy would have coke with a little something in it all day long, and we just all had fun and we'd party. I think his whole life was a party.

KING: What was the story of you and Ethel Kennedy? You were going to get married.

WILLIAMS: No, I wasn't going to get married.

KING: No? There were big rumors.

WILLIAMS: Well, Rumors.

KING: You were friends for life.

WILLIAMS: Yes, we were friends for life, and are very good friends now, yes. I love Bobby and Ethel, and my wife, Claudine, and I were very close with them, and then when he was killed, I was a delegate for the -- for Bobby, from the state of California. And I went to Chicago and did that part, and gave my vote to who Bobby really have done it to, George McGovern, and then I never got involved with politics after that, but I loved both of them very much. But there was no, you know -- she is now alone.

KING: But you've read all the stories?

WILLIAMS: Yes.

KING: When you and Claudine divorced, there were rumors of you and Ethel.

WILLIAMS: There were a lot of rumors, but none of them true, just really good friends.

KING: That was really nice, though, that you would have that kind of friendship, and you still are friends.

WILLIAMS: Still friends. Talk to her just about a month ago.

KING: But you dropped out of politics, lost -- because of...

WILLIAMS: I only got to get in it because of Bobby, because I was really a Republican, and so Bobby said, you want to be delegate? And I said sure, I'd over there be a delegate. And then I called him about a week later and I felt so bad, and I said I hope I haven't done anything wrong or embarrassed you, I said, but I'm a Republican, and he laughed and laughed, and said that doesn't matter, just go and register as a Democrat, and if you want to, go back to Republican afterward, but be a Democrat, be a delegate for me, and I said great. So I did that.

KING: He engendered a great deal of loyalty, didn't he?

WILLIAMS: Oh yes.

KING: No one like I am.

WILLIAMS: No. He was terrific. Would have been great president.

KING: Back with more Andy Williams on this edition of LARRY KING LIVE. He's with us for the full hour. Cindy McCain will be here tomorrow night to talk about how John is doing. Jerry Springer on Thursday.

We'll be right back.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP, "THE BEST OF THE ANDY WILLIAMS SHOW")

WILLIAMS & JULIE ANDREWS, MUSICIAN (singing): No need to sing when just a glance means everything. Not a word need be spoken in our language of love.

WILLIAMS (singing): I'll touch your cheek.

ANDREWS (singing): I'll hold your hand.

WILLIAMS & ANDREWS (singing): And only we will understand that the silence is broken by our language of love.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP, "THE BEST OF THE ANDY WILLIAMS SHOW")

WILLIAMS (singing): Some like the high road.

PEARL BAILEY, SINGER (singing): Sing it now. I like the low road.

WILLIAMS (singing): Free from the care and strive.

BAILEY (singing): I think they're laughing at us. It sounds corny and seedy.

WILLIAMS (singing): But yes, indeedy.

WILLIAMS & BAILEY (singing): We'll take the simple life.

BAILEY (singing): Let's go crazy now. We are working for the money, aren't we?

(END VIDEO CLIP)

KING: Pearl Bailey, the late Pearl Bailey, dancing and sitting.

WILLIAMS: Oh, she's great. KING: We did mentioned Claudine Longet, your ex-wife. You are remarried to Debbie Hass, right?

WILLIAMS: Very happily remarried with Debbie, beautiful girl.

KING: How is Claudine doing?

WILLIAMS: Claudine is good. Claudine is very good -- still lives in Aspen.

KING: No bitterness over all those things?

WILLIAMS: No, no, we are still very good friends.

KING: And Debbie, everything's terrific?

WILLIAMS: Debbie and we had a reunion with my children, my daughter, Noelle, and my son Christian, who lives in Costa Rica, and my son Bobby, and Debbie, and Claudine, and her husband. And everybody got along great. And Claudine and Debbie are good pals.

KING: Isn't that funny to look back at all the tumult that went on and now here, life -- do you feel your age, Andy? No, do you ever say to yourself: Where did it go?

WILLIAMS: Well, I think everybody feels where did it go, because it goes fast. And -- but I have done a lot of things that I love. I love the period of time that I had the television series. My children were growing up. And we were living in Los Angeles all the time. It was a wonderful time. But I'm enjoying this time that I have in Branson, I think, more -- as much any time I have ever...

KING: Do you go out at all and do work elsewhere?

WILLIAMS: Well, I'm going to England to fulfill an engagement that I canceled last January. I'm going to do that this January.

KING: What about doing a Christmas show again?

WILLIAMS: Well, we do a Christmas show in Branson.

KING: I know, but a television Christmas show.

WILLIAMS: Well, you get CNN to put one on and we will do it. It is hard to get....

KING: Work at CBS.

WILLIAMS: Hard to get networks to preempt something to put on a...

KING: Christmas...

WILLIAMS: You know, when they have "The Grinch."

KING: Let's take a call for Andy Williams. Cleveland, Texas, hello.

CALLER: Hello.

KING: Hi.

CALLER: Hi, I would like to ask Andy a question.

KING: Go ahead.

CALLER: And if you had to do it all over again in your career, what would you do differently?

WILLIAMS: Well, I think I would spend -- I would have spent -- I wouldn't have worked quite so hard. I wouldn't have worked all through the summer, which I did. I would do the television series and then record during that time. And then, in the summer, I would on the road with Henry Mancini or the Osmonds, or somebody. I would have spent more time with my kids when they were growing up, during that, say, three months when out of school.

KING: You missed a lot.

WILLIAMS: Yeah.

KING: Branson, Missouri, hello.

CALLER: Yes, Andy.

WILLIAMS: Yes.

CALLER: Your musical style is so much different from that of Glen's. How are you going to integrate that difference in your show?

WILLIAMS: Oh no, well, I think...

KING: That's a good question: Glen Campbell and Andy Williams. ain't exactly...

WILLIAMS: Well, Glen is an all-around good musician.

KING: Great guitar player.

WILLIAMS: Wonderful guitar player, fine singer. And he has been in Branson before. I called him and I said: Glen, why don't you come to Branson for seven weeks and we will do the show together? We will knock everybody out. We will be the talk of the town. He said: Well I don't know. And I said: We'll play golf every day. And he said: I will be there.

KING: Now, how is the act -- you do two shows a night, six nights a...

WILLIAMS: We're doing two shows a night. I think we're doing four matinees a week. So actually, we are doing 10 shows a week, not 12. KING: Now what, he opens, you close?

WILLIAMS: He is going to open. He's going to do like 45 minutes. I'm going to do -- then we have an intermission -- I'm going to do like 45 minutes. And then we are going to work together for 15 or 20 minutes and do some great stuff.

KING: Matinees. You're doing matinees.

WILLIAMS: Yes, we do a matinee at 3:00.

KING: Who's there is at 3:00 in the afternoon? I can't picture this.

WILLIAMS: Well, the theater seats 2000. And we generally have 2000 people there in a matinee. People come in buses during the -- September, October, November. They come from all over.

(CROSSTALK)

KING: You're near Springfield, Missouri, not exactly a major metropolitan...

WILLIAMS: No, but it's not far from St. Louis. It's, you know, it's a two and a half hour drive, a three-hour drive. Same from Kansas City. But people come in from all over country. And they have these bus tours. And they generally start with Kansas City or St. Louis. And then they drive up and they spend two or three or four days.

KING: And it was mostly country western, right?

WILLIAMS: It was all country and western until we opened, until my brother talked me into opening this theater.

KING: Are there any other non-country there?

WILLIAMS: Boy, the minute that opened and was successful, the Osmonds called. They said: What do you think that we would do there? And I said: I think you'll do great. Then Bobby Venton called. And then Tony Orlando called. And then Wayne Newton called. And...

KING: How many theaters are in Branson?

WILLIAMS: There are about 40, 40 legitimate theaters that play shows.

KING: How many major hotels?

WILLIAMS: Maybe six. And then all the rest of are motels, good motels, nice motels.

KING: And lodges and

(CROSSTALK)

WILLIAMS: Lodges, Big Cedar Lodge and...

KING: People bring their...

WILLIAMS: Some people come in campers. Some people come in buses. Some people come -- most of the people drive.

KING: This is without gambling.

WILLIAMS: No gambling. You know it is amazing place. We have like six million tourists a year. That is a lot of...

KING: A lot of restaurants.

WILLIAMS: A lot of restaurants. We had last year over 7,000 buses at our theater alone.

KING: How many people live in Branson?

WILLIAMS: Well, it says on the sign 3,706. But I think there must be about 8,000, 9,000 of them.

KING: Back with more of the incredible saga that is Andy Williams. What a career. Don't go away.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE (singing): Sweet and low.

WILLIAMS (singing): How sweet that memory, how long ago, forever.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE (singing): Don't hear it for long.

WILLIAMS (singing): Oh yes, forever.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE (singing): UNINTELLIGIBLE Oh, won't you be mine?

WILLIAMS (singing): By the rose, oh won't you be mine?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE (singing): By the rose, oh, by the rose, by the rose.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

KING: Judy Garland. And that young little girl we saw going into the break, that was Marie Osmond.

WILLIAMS: Marie Osmond.

KING: Her only appearance.

WILLIAMS: Three years old, 3 years old. She's so cute. Darling girl. KING: I want to ask you about this London thing, but first, let's take a call. Toronto, hello.

CALLER: Hello, Andy.

KING: Hi.

CALLER: I'm so thrilled to talk with you.

WILLIAMS: Thank you.

CALLER: I'd like to know how you stay so young-looking.

WILLIAMS: Isn't that nice?

KING: You're in good shape.

WILLIAMS: I'm in pretty good shape. I -- I eat well, No. 1. I work out some. I play a lot of golf. But I work out -- my wife has a great gym, I mean -- it's as big as this studio. I mean, we could -- we could sell memberships to it. And I do the treadmill every day, and that's about it. But mainly it's just staying away from fats.

KING: What happened to the Andy Williams Golf Tournament?

WILLIAMS: Well, it was on for 20 years, and then, I just thought it was enough.

KING: Because you -- Sammy had one. You had one for a long time.

WILLIAMS: Yes. Mine was the third one. Bing had one first, and Bob had one, and then I had one. But after 20 years it -- I got in a little bit of an argument with the guy from Shearson Lehman, who was running the tournament there. And I just said, "Well, I don't need this anymore," and I just sort of ended it.

KING: Now, is it true you have a hit record in England?

WILLIAMS: I -- a couple of years ago, I had a record that I recorded 30 years before they used in a commercial, a car commercial, called "I Can't Take My Eyes off You."

KING: I know that song.

WILLIAMS: Big hit. Big hit.

KING (singing): I can't take my eyes off you.

WILLIAMS: Right. And then about a year later, they brought another one of the early records called "Music to Watch Girls by," and they made another car commercial with that. That became so popular that the teenagers started calling to hear it played on radio, and it became a big hit. It became a bigger hit this time than it was when it was originally recorded.

KING: And that started getting you...

WILLIAMS: And then I started selling albums again. It created a whole upswing of my music. A lot of kids that had never heard of me or Tony Bennett or Burt Bacharach suddenly were getting into that kind of music.

KING: Was it difficult when the music era changed to no longer hear yourself...

WILLIAMS: As much on the radio?

KING: ... on the radio?

You heard yours yourself a lot.

WILLIAMS: No, because, you know, anybody knows that they're not going to go on forever. The record industry is really basically for young people, kids, and they're not going to hear you singing when you're 50 years old when they can hear a 17-year-old Britney Spears or somebody, you know. It's just -- it's that cyclical. That's the way it works.

So I didn't -- I didn't feel badly that they stopped playing my records.

KING: I mean, you could understand it intellectually...

WILLIAMS: Sure.

KING: ... but emotionally it wasn't difficult?

WILLIAMS: No, not at all. I still played it on music through, you know, the music stations.

KING: The old time -- and music of your life.

WILLIAMS: Music of your life. All of those channels. There was always -- there always will be Frank Sinatra played. There will always be my records played. Always Johnny Mathis played, just not as much and not on the same top 40 stations.

KING: "Hawaiian Wedding Song" was a big hit for you.

WILLIAMS: Right, big hit.

KING: It was a two-sided hit, right?

WILLIAMS: It was -- it sold about 950,000, and then they turned it over and they played the other side.

KING: Which was?

WILLIAMS: Which was -- I'm wrong. "Can't Get Used to Losing You" was on the other side of "Days of Wine and Roses." "Days of Wine and Roses" sold about 850,000, and neither one of them were a gold. Neither one of them -- so I didn't get a gold record, although the record sold about a million-seven.

KING: You don't get credit...

WILLIAMS: No, it has to be a million on one side.

KING: "Days of Wine and Roses" was humongous.

WILLIAMS: I know, but you know, the album sold so well. You know, I sold more albums than I sold singles.

KING: How about "Happy Heart"?

WILLIAMS: "Happy Heart" was a big hit. Didn't sell a million copies.

KING: I loved "Happy Heart."

WILLIAMS: Well, you didn't buy enough records.

KING: What a happy song to sing that was.

WILLIAMS: Great song.

KING (singing): There's a certain sound...

WILLIAMS: You know, every lyric...

KING: I go to...

(singing): ... always follows me around

We'll be back with more -- I love that song! We'll be back with more of Andy Williams right after this. Don't go away.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE & WILLIAMS (singing): Look down, look down, look down, look down that rosy road. Look down, look down, look down, look down that rosy road.

Look down, look down, down that rosy road. Look down, look down, down that rosy road. Look down, look down, down that long, long road.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP, "THE BEST OF THE ANDY WILLIAMS SHOW")

WILLIAMS (singing): In the arms of love tonight.

(LAUGHTER)

(END VIDEO CLIP)

KING: The late Henry Mancini. What prompted that? WILLIAMS: I don't know. You know, he was -- he had a great sense of humor and wanted me to go on the road. One time, we were in Japan and we did this number, "In the Arms of Love." I just record it. It was a big hit of his.

And one time, he came over and he went -- did that thing, you know, and we danced, and it was funny. And people laughed -- in Japan they laughed.

KING: His face was funny.

WILLIAMS: So we left it in.

KING: Some guy...

WILLIAMS: And it became part of our thing.

KING: I miss him.

WILLIAMS: Yes, I do, too, a lot.

KING: Belfast, Ireland for Andy Williams, hello.

CALLER: Yes, Larry. I'm calling you from Belfast. I'm a Palestinian. Western Union has taken my money and they are thieves, and they don't...

KING: OK. I'm sorry. A political call from Belfast. Doesn't fit this program, but I appreciate it.

(LAUGHTER)

Hancock, New Hampshire hello. But if you have an opinion on it, we'll be happy to hear it.

(LAUGHTER)

Hancock, New Hampshire.

CALLER: Andy, about 45 years ago, I caught your act in Washington, D.C., and I just couldn't believe, toward the end of the show you put the mike down and sang out over the audience, and it was hard to believe your voice was not amplified. Do you think you'll ever be able to do that again?

WILLIAMS: Oh, I could still do that. Our theater -- I don't know how big that theater was then that you saw the show -- our theater seats about 2,000. I don't know whether I'd be heard in the back if I sang completely acappella.

What did I do? Did I do "Danny Boy" or one of those songs?

KING: Got cut off.

Did you...

WILLIAMS: Oh, he got cut off.

KING: Do you sing now -- like now, do you -- you're driving home. Will you sing to yourself?

WILLIAMS: Well, I will now, because, you know, I want to get back and singing again. And...

KING: So what, do you do exercises?

WILLIAMS: Well, I do a little. I do some.

KING: Like?

WILLIAMS: Moo, moo...

KING: Are you kidding me or are you doing this?

WILLIAMS: No, really. That's what I do.

KING: And this does what?

WILLIAMS: It sort of brings your throat back, your voice back, a lot of things like that.

KING: Do you ever get afraid that it's not going to be there?

WILLIAMS: No.

KING: Sinatra told me once he used to think of that.

WILLIAMS: No, Frank -- Frank...

KING: When he walked on the stage, will it be there?.

WILLIAMS: His voice was always there. His voice was always there.

KING: But he thought maybe it wouldn't. Did you ever think -- do you ever think it might not be there?

WILLIAMS: Yes, I did.

KING: That's panicky.

WILLIAMS: Well, I've panicked, you know, several times in my life, but it was always there. It always did happen to be there. I hope it is on September 8th.

KING: Back with our remaining moments with Andy Williams on this edition of LARRY KING LIVE, after this.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

WILLIAMS (singing): May I take this occasion to say the whole human race should get down on its knees to show that we're grateful for moments like these on a wonderful day, on a wonderful day like today...

(APPLAUSE)

(END VIDEO CLIP)

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

KING: By the way, Andy Williams presented the Song of the Year Award at the 2000 Grammys. He has five Grammy nominations, hosted the first televised Grammys in 1971. John Glenn on his second space flight took an Andy Williams CD with him. Not a bad honor.

Let's get a call: Hattiesburg, Mississippi, hello.

CALLER: Hi, Andy. I'm 40 years old, and you're my absolute idol. I've danced and sang to your music as a little girl in the early '60s, and I'm holding my mom and dad's original "Moon River" album right now...

(LAUGHTER)

... while I'm talking to you.

KING: Wow.

CALLER: And I wanted to ask how much longer will you be performing. If your health holds out and your voice, how much longer do you plan to keep singing in Branson?

WILLIAMS: Well, I'm going to sing in Branson as long as I can, as long as people want to come and see me. But I'm cutting back. I'm not going to work from April through December like I did before. I'm going to sing September, October November, and part of December, the middle of December.

KING: Six nights a week?

WILLIAMS: Six nights a week.

KING: There'll be other acts at other times.

WILLIAMS: No. I think we'll probably just close the theater. We might. I don't know for sure, but...

KING: A closed theater can't make any money.

WILLIAMS: Well, we make money when I'm there in September, October, November, December.

KING: And these, by the way, are beautiful theaters?

WILLIAMS: Mine is a beautiful theater, yes, and a lot of them are in Branson.

KING: You have really nice seating and carpeting? WILLIAMS: Oh, it's beautiful. My theater is the (UNINTELLIGIBLE). It is the only theater ever featured in "Architectural Digest," of any theater.

KING: Really?

WILLIAMS: And it's -- it's a gorgeous theater.

KING: Another guy we should mention, Jonathan Winters -- he was a regular.

WILLIAMS: Jonathan was on 28 times, and I loved...

KING: How did you control him?

WILLIAMS: Well, we didn't. I mean, we got to the point where we didn't rehearse at all. We'd just say, Jonathan, here's a table with some hats on it...

(LAUGHTER)

... and do whatever you want. And then we'd go on the air live, and he would just do things.

KING: Did you ever lose it?

WILLIAMS: And I'd laugh, I'd just laugh.

KING: Oh yes, you'd have to lose it.

WILLIAMS: I'd laugh, or always say, "I'm just going to sing a song and do anything you want behind him."

(LAUGHTER)

WILLIAMS: And what was really funny about it is I didn't know what he was doing back there. So I'm straight...

(LAUGHTER)

You know, I'm not breaking up or laughing at anything he's doing. The audience is laughing, but I can't see him, so I just sing my song, which is the way -- that's what comedy really should be anyway.

KING: We've asked actors if they ever turned down a part they regretted. Did you ever turn down a song you regretted?

WILLIAMS: Many.

KING: Name a couple.

WILLIAMS: "More," "Volare."

KING: "Volare" you turned...

WILLIAMS: But I turned -- you know, you... (LAUGHTER)

Singers turn down songs for various reasons. Sometimes...

KING: What was the reason you turned...

WILLIAMS: Well, I turned -- usually it was because I had a record out, you know, and the publisher has to get this record out now and he was not going to wait around. So I can't put it out so Dean Martin puts it out. Dean doesn't have a record out right then. Same with "More." I loved "More" from Mando Kanni (ph). That was a great song. But the timing...

KING: Is there a song that was a hit you didn't love?

WILLIAMS: "Can't Get Used to Losing You."

KING: You didn't like that?

WILLIAMS: I thought it was dumb.

(LAUGHTER)

Dumb and...

KING: "Can't Get Used to Losing You No Matter What I Try to Do," right?

WILLIAMS: You remember it.

KING: I know lyrics. I don't know what it is. I know lyrics.

WILLIAMS: You have a memory, a photographic memory.

KING: You thought it was dumb.

WILLIAMS: Well, all I heard was that...

(singing): ... can't get used to losing you no matter...

But I hadn't it -- you know, and it's not written down there. You know, all the violin -- the orchestration, I think, made that song.

KING: But there's no regrets when you turn down "Volare" and someone else...

WILLIAMS: No, you can't. No, you can't.

KING: You can't say to yourself...

WILLIAMS: No, you can't.

KING: ... "I'm sorry I didn't do this"?

WILLIAMS: No. I didn't talk to Dean for a long time. (LAUGHTER)

KING: What a thrill.

WILLIAMS: Thank you very much.

KING: Always great seeing you. Andy Williams, the health is fine. The node -- whatever it...

WILLIAMS: Is gone.

KING: Is gone! And he'll be back September 8th, six days a week, two shows a day for a seven-week run in Branson, Missouri at his own theater.

WILLIAMS: With Glen Campbell.

KING: With Glen Campbell. We spent an hour with Andy Williams. Hope you enjoyed it. Thanks for being part of it.

Cindy McCain will be with us tomorrow night and a panel of doctors to talk about cancer, living with cancer, what to do about it if you're faced with that as the mate of someone with cancer.

Thanks very much for joining us. From Los Angeles, good night.

TO ORDER A VIDEO OF THIS TRANSCRIPT, PLEASE CALL 800-CNN-NEWS OR USE OUR SECURE ONLINE ORDER FORM LOCATED AT www.fdch.com

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