Part 4 of 4: A conversation with Andy Williams, August 2011
Julie Catalano: You loved art even when you couldn't afford it. What advice would you give to a budding collector today?
AW: Buy what you like, number one. Just read a lot about it, go to museums, and get a keen eye about what you really like. Study it. I used to go to every gallery I could go to on 57th street when I was there. Every day. They got to know me, I was a big pest. I'd come in and say, how much is that, how much is this, what is this, and how good is that guy. And then I got to the point in 1968 when I saw a picture, I knew I liked it, and I bought it. I paid $16,000 for it. Christie's has valued it a little over a million now. So I got the right eye.
JC: Do you paint?
AW: No. I did one picture, one painting when I was about 20 years old. It was a copy of a Toulouse-Lautrec [“The Laundress,” c. 1884], and I still have it. I have given it to my wife. She loves it. It's a big picture.
JC: Why did you never paint another one?
AW: I did that almost by numbers. I drew it first, then filled in all the things and then I overdid it so that you couldn't tell that it was done that way. I really didn't have any talent, I don't think, for painting.
JC: Now I have to ask you a silly question: You're stranded on a desert island. You can take one book, one food, one album, and one movie. What are they?
AW: I would take my mother's chicken vegetable soup. Movie – I would take “The Godfather.” I love “The Count of Monte Cristo,” I read it a lot as a kid. Or “Les Miserables.” Album – I'd take a Frank Sinatra album, “In The Wee Small Hours.”
JC: You showcased a lot of talent through the years. If you were to do a television show today, who would you want as your guests?
AW: You mean now? I haven't even thought about that. Christina Aguilera is great. Celine Dion is terrific, Vince Gill I love.
JC: Any comedians?
AW: Who's funny anymore?
Now we were both laughing.
JC: Besides you? Nobody.
AW: I have no idea. What comedians are there?
JC: Good question. It kind of ended for me after Jerry Seinfeld.
AW: He was great. He would open for me in Lake Tahoe, and we've been pretty good friends. I said, you're so funny you really ought to get on television. [He'd say] 'I don't want to get on television, I want to do stand up, that's all I want to do is stand up.' About two years later, he's got a television show but he did stand up for the first 10 minutes of the show. And then it developed, he eventually ended the standup, and you know what happened.
JC: He should give you a cut.
AW: He should!
Our time was up, and I knew I would probably never have another chance to tell him about those long-ago days, watching his show and listening to my parents' albums, loving him and his music for a lifetime – stories I was sure he had heard a zillion times from a zillion fans, but I wanted to add mine. I took a deep breath.
“Mr. Williams, I can't let you go without telling you how much your music has meant to me. I grew up watching your shows every week, and even though my plan to grow up and marry you didn't pan out...”
“That's 'cause I never met you,” he interjected.
Now it was my turn to laugh – he was a charmer – but I continued, “...it has been a real honor to talk to you. Thank you so much, and I hope to interview you again on your 100th birthday.”
“I hope I make it.”
“Thank you Julie, very much.”
“Thank you, Mr. Williams. Goodbye.”
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