GLENN: Probably one of my biggest memories of Christmas -- I can't even say this. I don't even know how to describe it. Whenever I think of Christmas, Andy Williams is in that memory. Some way or another. And it's this. Who doesn't think of Christmas with Andy Williams? Andy Williams is still going. What was he? Four when he was doing these? Andy Williams is on the phone with us now. Hello, sir.
WILLIAMS: What do you mean I'm still going?
GLENN: You were like four when you started singing this stuff.
WILLIAMS: I started singing when I was about seven on the radio. But I've been singing a long time.
GLENN: I'm sure you know this, but you are -- really, everybody, Pat is my radio writer and partner and we were just talking about this the other day. We think of Christmas -- when we think of Christmas we think of you.
WILLIAMS: Isn't that nice?
PAT: We grew up on your Christmas music.
GLENN: And Christmas specials and anything else.
WILLIAMS: I'm doing my Christmas show now here. I did a show last night.
GLENN: Was it in Los Angeles or in Branson?
WILLIAMS: Los Angeles.
GLENN: In Los Angeles.
WILLIAMS: I do one tonight here.
GLENN: Where are you?
WILLIAMS: In Cerritos. Do you know where Cerritos is? I guess it's in Orange County.
GLENN: What's your Christmas special like now?
WILLIAMS: I start off with the Most Wonderful Time of the Year. We have a wonderful band. Everything sounds luscious and wonderful and Christmasy. And the audiences are wonderful when they come to see a Christmas show. Everyone is in a good mood and everybody's happy and everybody comes here to hear me sing and have a good time. And I have a lot of help. I have a wonderful orchestra. Wonderful singers and dancers. Great comedians. It's a very happy show.
GLENN: Don't mind my saying your age, you're 82 years old.
WILLIAMS: We don't tell anybody that.
GLENN: Okay. I'll take that back. Stations edit that out. I mean, you don't sound it. I mean, what's the secret here, Andy?
WILLIAMS: I don't know what it is. But I'm just blessed with being able to sing at this age and still sound decent.
GLENN: So how did you -- because you're also known for -- you were huge, Moon River, everything else. How did you get -- how did you become Mr. Christmas?
WILLIAMS: I started doing Christmas shows on my regular television series, which started in 1962. And I did Christmas shows every year for nine years. And then NBC asked me to continue on with the Christmas shows, even though the regular season was over. I mean, the regular series was over. So I must have done 14 years of Christmas shows on television. And during that time I recorded six different Christmas albums. So I am sort of entrenched with Christmas.
by Andy Williams
GLENN: You have a book out.
WILLIAMS: Book called Moon River and Me. The story of my life. My son Bobby said to me one day, "Pop, if you're going to write this book you better get going."
GLENN: What is the story of your life?
WILLIAMS: Starting with my brothers singing on the radio when I was seven. And then traveling -- my father's desire, his passion, was to have his four boys become radio stars. And so he got us on the radio in Des Moines, Iowa, on WHO.
WILLIAMS: Then moved on to Chicago and then Cincinnati and out to California. And then got us in the movies. He was the driving force behind the Williams Brothers.
GLENN: If you had to look back at your life, what would you say, first of all, what was the thing that stood out in your early career where you said, "Wow, I can't believe I did or I met this person or that event or," what was the thing early on.
WILLIAMS: One was making a record with Bing Crosby. I was four years old. My brothers and I were asked to sing this song called, what was the song? Swinging on a Star. And it became a big hit for Bing. Then the big thrill for me was about 20 years later on my own television show sitting on a stool next to Bing Crosby singing to us, it was really something.
GLENN: Do you know who Michale Buble is?
GLENN: Have you ever met him.
WILLIAMS: No I've never met him. Very good singer.
GLENN: Very nice man. I just did an hour with him that's going to air next week on television. And we were talking. And he was talking about Christmas music. This is back stage before we started. And he said, you know, everybody wants him to make a Christmas album. He said if it's not Bing Crosby or Andy Williams, I can't do it. He was influenced by you and he said to me that it was the white Christmases of the world that first got him into singing.
WILLIAMS: Is that right?
WILLIAMS: He's a very good singer. I'm glad there's somebody coming along, some young cat that can carry a tune.
PAT: There aren't that many, are there?
WILLIAMS: There really aren't a lot. When the singer/songwriter came about, 20, 30 years ago, when the Beatles did their things and Elvis did his thing, it became something else. It was no longer Frank Sinatra and Tony Bennett and Andy Williams. It was a singer/songwriter. And so the musicality of the singing sort of left. And now Buble is coming back and is doing the same kind of things that Sinatra and I did, Bennett and Johnny Mathis, of just singing.
GLENN: I'm just looking -- I'm just reading this here about Moon River and Me, and I mean, the story of your ex-wife is in here. Bobby Kennedy. Ronald Reagan. Judy Garland. John Houston. Jack Lemmon, Howard Hughes. What was Howard Hughes like?
WILLIAMS: Howard Hughes, shall I say, reclusive.
GLENN: You think? (Laughing)
WILLIAMS: I never met him. I got messages from him but I never met him. I was getting the messages from him from a guy named Bob Mahew, supposed to be the guy who was really his right-hand man. It turned out that Bob Mahew never met him either. He just got all the messages under the door.
GLENN: What were the years you were getting messages from him?
WILLIAMS: That was early in the '60s. But that was -- he wanted me to come and work at one of his hotels. And I was signed to stay, work at Caesars Palace.
GLENN: What was Elvis like?
WILLIAMS: He was wonderful. I didn't know him terribly well. I met him three or four times. He came back stage to see me at Caesars Palace. It was really funny because all my musicians wanted to meet him. So they were in the dressing room with me. He came in. He had about seven people with him, and we would sit around and talk and his guys would laugh when he said something that was kind of funny, my guys would say something when I would say something kind of funny. It was really funny. So finally he said let's go over to my place. This was about two, three in the morning. I didn't do my second show until about 12:30, got off at 1:30. We went over to his place at the Hilton. And he just said there are about 200 kids in his suite when he came in all dancing and having fun. And he said let's go on in here. We went into another room, into a library. And he played some music. He loved gospel music. We sang gospel music together for about two hours. And then finally I said I've got to go to bed. Can't stay up all night.
GLENN: He had to be, "What? Bed. Alone?" I hesitate to even ask this, but were you ever -- like Frank Sinatra. We know Frank Sinatra was Frank Sinatra.
WILLIAMS: He was a dual personality, I think.
GLENN: Did you ever back in the days when that was the way people lived, did you lead that lifestyle?
WILLIAMS: No, I didn't. I was married. I had children. I was reasonable. No, I didn't get into all of the trouble that a lot of people did.
WILLIAMS: I just worked hard. I screwed up my marriage by working too hard and not spending time with my, taking care of the family and my kids and stuff, which I regret a lot. But, no, I was fairly a normal person. I grew up with my brothers. And I was brought up in the church, Presbyterian church. I had certain values that were instilled in me by my parents. So I lived a fairly normal life. I wasn't as wild as the Rat Pack.
GLENN: I don't know if anybody was.
WILLIAMS: I spent some time with them. And I knew Sinatra and I had dinner with him several times. I saw him one time being very cruel, and I couldn't get over the idea of this man who could sing in such a tender wonderful loving kind way and such a -- was such a wonderful personality, could be so mean. He just had two sides. But with me he was always fine.
GLENN: My father is your age. And my father said to me, he said, "With what I see coming, I'm glad I'm my age because I wouldn't want to be your age right now." When you look at the state of our world, of our country and everything, what are you feeling?
WILLIAMS: I watch your show a lot. I feel pretty much like you do. I feel we're in a terrible situation. I hope that things are going to get better. But I don't have much faith in our president.
GLENN: I have tremendous faith and it is growing. I have tremendous faith in the Lord, and I just -- I think this is his country. And I see people waking up. I have tremendous faith and it's growing every day in people. The American people are very resilient. And if they're told the truth, they will face anything and will conquer anything.
WILLIAMS: I believe that, too.
GLENN: Andy Williams, it is a pleasure, sir. And I know --
WILLIAMS: Pleasure for me to talk to you. I admire what you're doing, and I really like you a lot.
GLENN: Could I send you my old Andy Williams record album and have you sign it? I swear to you, this is just the coolest thing ever to talk to you, it really is. I mean, I've been a fan -- I don't mean to make you feel like Father Time here but I've been a fan since I was a little kid. And you've been always but nothing a good memory. And that's very rare.
WILLIAMS: That's very nice to hear. I couldn't have anything better said about my life, I guess, that I was a good person.
GLENN: Well, thank you so much, sir. And it's a real privilege to talk to you. Thank you very much.
WILLIAMS: I've enjoyed it very much. Thanks very much, Glenn.