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'Moon River' singer Andy Williams dies

The legendary American crooner Andy Williams, the voice of 1960s hits like 'Moon River' and 'Love Story,' has died. The 84-year-old had been battling bladder cancer.

Williams was wildly popular in the 1960s, and had 18 gold and three platinum records to his name. He accumulated more gold albums than any other solo performer, bar Frank Sinatra, Johnny Mathis and Elvis Presley.

His long string of hits include 'Can't Get Used to Losing You,' 'Happy Heart,' 'Butterfly,' 'It's the Most Wonderful Time of the Year,' and 'Where Do I Begin,' the theme song from the 1970 blockbuster film 'Love Story.'

Photo shows US singer Andy Williams at the 50th annual Grammy Awards (Photo: dpa)

Andy Williams was famous for his easy style and mellow voice

US President Ronald Reagan once declared Williams a "national treasure."

Howard Andrew "Andy" Williams won an Academy Award for his rendition of 'Moon River,' in the 1961 film 'Breakfast at Tiffanys,' leading the NBC network to sign him for the popular 'Andy Williams Show.' It ran for almost a decade until 1971 and then became an annual Christmas special. Williams was also a frequent host of the Grammys and Golden Globes.

His 75-year career began at the age of eight, when he sang with his three brothers as part of the Williams Brothers Quartet.

Such was his popularity that Williams' birthplace in Wall Lake, Iowa, is a tourist attraction. A theatre in his adopted hometown of Branson, Missouri, opened in the 1990s, called Moon River Theatre.

Williams is survived by his wife Debbie Meyer, and his three children Robert, Noelle and Christian. His first marriage to French-born dancer Claudine Longet ended in divorce in 1975. In 1976 Longet was charged over the fatal shooting of her boyfriend Spider Sabich in Aspen. Williams was present by Longet's side throughout the trial.

jr/msh (AFP, AP, dpa)