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Farewell to a legend: A conversation with Andy Williams, August 2011, Part 3

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Part 3 of 4: A conversation with Andy Williams, August 2011

Julie Catalano: What are you most looking forward to next year with your celebration? You've got your 75 years in show business, you've got 20 years in Branson, and it's your 85th birthday.

AW: 84. I'm 83 now.

JC: But that's in December.

AW: Yes. Next year I guess I'll be turning 85.

JC: Yes. Don't try to be younger than you are. We'll catch you. We read the book.

AW: [laughs] Right. Well I don't know. This is not my idea to do this [party] at all. Why just say, come and see an old man?

JC: An old man that they're still throwing panties at in England. [Williams' 1967 hit, Bob Crewe's “Music to Watch Girls By” was used in a 1999 Fiat commercial that sent the song to the top ten in the UK, relaunching his career among a new, younger audience.]

AW: Well, in England. Not here.

JC: We'll get some people up there to throw some panties at you. Everybody's going to be interviewing you next year, wanting to know what your secret is, how you look so young. Any strange rituals or vitamins?

AW: No. I try to keep healthy by staying active, and using my voice. Because if you don't use it, you're going to get to sounding old, kind of like that [he makes his voice weaker and weaker]. You've got to use it. It's a muscle. As long as you use it it will get stronger. Opera singers, you know, sometimes they're singing these big opera things when they're in their 60s. Well I don't need to do that. I'm singing pop stuff. But you still have to be able to have control of your voice, so that it doesn't wobble all over everywhere. And I try not to do that. It's not as easy as it was when I was 50, but I do pretty well at controlling everything.

JC: I think you do very well. The good news is you won't have people telling you to write a book because you already did that. Was that a cathartic experience for you? How was it go back over all those years?

AW: It was hard. I thought it was going to be easy, but it's hard. I rewrote it so many times. I found that it was boring in places and I had to spice it up a little bit. I wanted to make sure that I told the truth. Because I think if you write something about yourself, especially when it rings true, then people believe it. So I was really honest. Some of it wasn't very flattering to me, but it was true, and so I think people know that, when they read something that's true, even though it isn't very flattering, it's forgivable.

JC: I was amazed at how candid it was. I didn't know you had dropped acid.

AW: Well, I did that in a hospital. I did it because I wanted to know why the hell I wasn't happy with my marriage and things like that.

JC: And did it meet your expectations in that regard?

AW: No. The only thing I got out of it really, when it comes right down to it is that nothing is very important except your family and your really close friends. All the little things that used to bother me don't bother me anymore.

JC: You have this image of being laid back, but you're a perfectionist, so I wondered about that. What makes you the angriest?

AW: Angriest? I guess stupidity in people, people that just are dumb, say dumb things or rude things, you know, they don't think. That really bothers me. But nothing bothers me too much anymore.

JC: If there were a reality show, “Life with Andy,” what would people see?

AW: Well, they'd probably see a lot of golf, a lot of family stuff with my wife and she plays golf very well. The ranch, the house we live in. Our dogs, we have three rescue dogs who are very important to us. I don't know. It might be interesting, it might be boring. But I'm certainly not going to do one.

JC: What about “Dancing with the Stars”?

AW: Never.

JC: What did you think about Donny Osmond winning?

AW: Oh, I loved it.

JC: Did you watch him? Wasn't he great?

AW: Oh, sure. He was great. I watched Marie too, fall down.

JC: Oh that's right. Bless her heart. Your television show – is it on DVD. Did any of the episodes survive?

AW: We have all of them. I own all of them, and they're all in great shape because I had them redone 40 or 50 years ago, so they are pristine. The sound is brilliant and the color is absolutely like today. But the big problem with getting it on television and redoing it is the size of the orchestra we had which is 32 pieces, and the musicians union, to pay what they want, just makes it impossible to do it. What Carol Burnett did, she had a pretty good sized orchestra too, she just took all the music out and did it again with a smaller band, probably 8 or 10 pieces. So she had to take out most of the musical numbers, but all the comedy things she left in, and she was able to get it on the air.

Next, Part 4: The art of collecting, favorite things, and goodbyes.

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