Andy Williams at the 1978 Grammy Awards. (Lennox McLendon/Associated…)
Singer Andy Williams, who died Tuesday at age 84, was singing with his three older brothers as the Williams Brothers when the quartet arrived in Hollywood in 1944 and soon were signed by MGM.
They were on loan to Warner Bros. when 16-year-old Andy landed his first solo singing role in the movies, although he did not appear on screen.
A 19-year-old Lauren Bacall was also on the Warner Bros. lot, filming her first movie -– “To Have and Have Not” opposite Humphrey Bogart -- and the role required her to sing.
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As recounted in his 2009 memoir “Moon River and Me,” Williams hadn't finished high school and was attending the school on the Warner Bros. lot when he stopped by the office of musical director Dudley Chambers.
Chambers had his back to Williams when the singer walked in and said, “Excuse me, Mr. Chambers, I've finished my homework. I'd like to go outside and play a little football.”
Chambers stopped what he was doing and then turned around and stared at Williams.
“That's the voice I've been looking for,” he said.
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Bacall's singing voice, Williams wrote, “wasn't quite good enough for a number she had to do in the film. Mr. Chambers had been auditioning scores of women, including Bob Hope's wife, Dolores, to sing for Bacall, but because she had a low, husky voice, none of the singers he auditioned had the sound he was looking for. He had now decided that a sixteen-year-old boy whose voice had only recently changed was the perfect match for Bacall.”
In his book, Williams noted that years later, “Bacall admitted that I dubbed the song [‘How Little We Know'] for her but said that they wanted to use her own voice saying part of the lyric … and because my voice didn't match her speaking voice well enough, in the end they decided to use her recording, not mine, as originally planned.
“I'm not sure what the truth of it was, but I'm not going to argue about it with the formidable Ms. Bacall!”
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