Monday, November 19, 2012

Andy Williams Christmas Shows


Andy (holding the reins) singing "Sleigh Ride" with his back-sup singers on the annual Christmas episode of The Andy Williams Show.

Though singer Andy Williams passed away in September, he left behind a wonderful legacy of holiday music and Christmas TV shows.  I'd like to honor him by remembering his contribution to Christmas entertainment.  Williams starred on TV in his own variety TV series, The Andy Williams Show from 1962 through 1971.  This series was so well-known for its annual Christmas show that Williams returned to TV for two additional Christmas specials in 1972 and '73, creating 12 Christmas shows in all.  These holiday shows were usually the highest-rated installments of each season--and included elaborate costumes, sets, and even special effects.

Victorian costumes, choreographed dancers, and elaborate sets fill the musical productions numbers during the Christmas shows.

While a typical episode of The Andy Williams Show included special celebrity guest stars, Andy's Christmas shows featured family.  Andy would include The Williams Brothers, his real-life older brothers--Bob, Don, and Dick--with whom Andy had started singing professionally when they were still children.

The Williams Brothers started their careers singing on the radio in the late 1930s.  After agreeing to leave show business in the early 1950s, Andy went on to a successful solo career.

The Williams Brothers wear matching outfits in each of the annual Christmas shows--I LOVE the detail of the matching green socks and shoes!
Andy's shows would also include his parents, his wife Claudine Longet, and eventually their three young children, Noelle, Christian, and Bobby.

Andy's Christmas shows meant family time together.

Andy's beautiful wife Claudine Longet sings "My Favorite Things" on one of his annual Christmas shows.

 The Christmas shows also included another family, The Osmond Brothers--Alan, Wayne, Merrill, and Jay.  Their four-part harmonies blended smoothly, much like voices of The Williams Brothers. Eventually the Osmond Brothers added young Donny for five-part harmony singing.

Williams with The Osmond Brothers in a Christmas show that features the boys singing while toasting marshmallows around an open fire.

The five Osmond Brothers (the youngest, Donny, is second from the left) sing along with the Williams Brothers, on the right.
Andy Williams has several signature Christmas songs.  The song "It's the Most Wonderful Time of the Year," written by George Wylie and Eddie Pola, was specifically written for Williams' Christmas TV show, which he first sang in 1963.



Another signature Andy Williams Christmas song is "Happy Holiday/The Holiday Season," a song originally composed by Irving Berlin with added contributions from Kay Thompson.  This swingin' holiday song is one of my personal favorites.  (The original Irving Berlin song "Happy Holiday" can also be seen performed by Bing Crosby in the 1942 movie Holiday Inn).



In the above video clip, the four Williams Brothers are joined by the five Osmond Brothers singing "Happy Holiday/The Holiday Season."

Another Christmas song closely associated with Andy Williams and his annual Christmas TV shows is "Kay Thompson's Jingle Bells" or a jazzy holiday medley that includes "Jingle Bells."  This song is featured on the original 1963 The Andy Williams Christmas Album.  They really don't make music like this anymore.




Though Williams can swing with the best of them, his annual Christmas shows also include very traditional songs of the season including reverent versions of "Silent Night," "Ave Maria," and "O Holy Night."

Williams is also known for his performances of traditional carols.

Though none of the original Andy Williams Christmas shows have been released on DVD, there have been two 'best of' compilations released.  Both include many of the same video clips of the best of the musical performances from the twelve Christmas TV shows.  I hope that complete versions of the Christmas shows will eventually be released on to DVD so that future generations can enjoy and appreciate Williams' outstanding holiday performances.

4 comments:

  1. I have never seen any of these Christmas specials, sadly. I was born at the tail end, so I missed out. Love his Christmas music, though. Some of his tunes are some of my favorites holiday classics.

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    1. Check out at least one of the DVD compilations--they have nearly the same title (on Amazon, neither title matches the cover of the DVD). I see Netflix has one of them--they are both good. My local library has them too.

      The extended video clips of musical performances certainly capture the spirit of the TV shows.

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    2. Cool! Didn't think to check Netflix, will go add one to my (growing) Christmas queue now!

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    3. Ah, sadly, they are only available if you have the DVD plan. We are on the Instant Watch only. Maybe next year!

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