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Andy Williams' TV career showcased talent of the '60s

September 26, 2012|By Patrick Kevin Day
  • "The Andy Williams Show" won three Emmy awards.
"The Andy Williams Show" won three Emmy awards. (Associated Press )

Andy Williams, who died Tuesday at age 84 after a yearlong battle with bladder cancer, wasn't just a popular singer. His TV career, which was at its peak during the 1960s, brought him Emmy awards and allowed him to showcase many talents that would grow in fame throughout the decade.

"The Andy Williams Show" ran on CBS and NBC between 1959 and 1971 and went from a weekly variety show to a series of specials, and then back to a variety show. Williams laid-back style proved a favorite with audiences and voting members of the TV academy and it earned three Emmys for variety program. Williams himself received two Emmy nominations.

One of the earliest regular guests on the show who went on to arguably the greatest fame were the Osmonds. The brother singing group from Ogden, Utah, first appeared on Williams' show in 1962 and returned several times, eventually adding little brother Donny to the group.

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Here's a clip from one of the Osmonds' earliest appearances, with, from left, Alan, Wayne, Merrill and Jay performing "Ding Dong Daddy From Dumas."

The brothers' numerous appearances on Williams' show allowed audiences to witness the transformation of the group from a cute novelty act to a full-fledged sensation. This clip from 1969 or 1970 showcases just how much the Osmonds evolved over the decade (and had the added bonus of younger brother Donny in the mix as well.)

Though Williams regularly featured acts who would eventually perform alongside him in Branson, Mo., such as Ray Stevens and the Osmonds, he occasionally brought on performers whose fame would transcend the easy-listening core of his audience. One example is this appearance by a young Elton John in 1970.

Williams didn't just bring out the guests and let them sing. He also occasionally engaged in some lighthearted banter on stage, best demonstrated in this clip from 1966 with guests Bobby Darin and Anthony Newley.

One of the most popular recurring bits on Williams' show involved a bizarre cookie-craving bear performed by stuntman Janos Prohaska. Though the bear always craved a cookie, the normally affable Williams would never give it to him. Don't expect it to make sense, but somehow it was popular.

Here's a clip of one of the sketches featuring guest Kate Smith.

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Join Patrick Kevin Day on Google+ or Twitter. Email: patrick.day@latimes.com

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