It won an Oscar for best song, and three Grammy Awards. “Moon River,” flighty Holly Golightly’s fire-escape ditty in “Breakfast at Tiffany’s,” became the banner song for crooner Andy Williams, who died at the age of 84 on Tuesday, Sept. 25.
“Moon River” was written by Johnny Mercer and Henry Mancini for Audrey Hepburn, but it became Williams' own when he sung it at that year’s Academy Awards ceremony. Williams’ version of the song never charted, but he became closely associated with the song, even amid his work on other popular soundtracks for films like ”Days of Wine and Roses” and “The Godfather.” He even named his theater in Branson, Mo., after the song. In a 2000 Washington Post profile of Williams, Jill Serjeant wrote:
Williams must be one of the few singers who has not come to hate his own theme song despite having performed it, by some estimates, well over 12,000 times.
“I sing 'Moon River' every show. I forgot one time, and about 70 people wanted their money back,” he said.
“Fortunately I really like that song. It's such a good song. The lyrics are timeless. The arrangement is so pretty, I just get carried away every time I sing it. Some young cat should record it again, and it would be a hit again.”
Compare Williams’ version, above, to Hepburn’s below — and share your memories of the singer in the comments.