Friday, July 11, 2014
Inquirer Daily News

Andy Williams, Lauren Bacall and 'To Have and Have Not'

Rest in peace to Andy Williams, the easy listening singer and TV host best known for his version of "Moon River" who has died of bladder cancer at age 84.

Andy Williams, Lauren Bacall and 'To Have and Have Not'

Rest in peace to Andy Williams, the easy listening singer and TV host best known for his version of "Moon River" who has died of bladder cancer at age 84. His obituary is here.

Four things of note about Williams:

1) He was involved in that creepy murder mystery triangle with his by then former French wife Claudine Longet, who used to sing with him on all his Christmas specials, and who was convicted of misdemeanor criminal negligence after fatally shooting her boyfriend Vladimir "Spider" Sabich in Aspen, Colorado in 1977. Williams and Longet were divorced by then, but Williams stood by her in her time of need. That's Williams, Longet, children and dog in the photo.

2) His Christmas staple "It's The Most Wonderful Time Of Year" was used to wonderfully ironic effect in Bad Santa.

3) He had a hit in 1963 with the Doc Pomus and Mort Shuman song "Can't Get Used To Losing You." When I was a kid, I used to drive with my father in his enormous Chrysler LeBaron as he made his way around dubious neighborhoods in Atlantic City serving legal papers to disreputable people and ne'er-do-wells. Along with Sinatra at the Sands, the one cassette I remember as always being in the car was Andy Williams' Greatest Hits.

While Camillo "Duke" DeLuca went about his business and I stayed in the car with the doors locked, I must have heard that tape 1000 times. And for all that, there was only one song on there that stuck with me: "Can't Get Used To Losing You," which was burned in my brain then as now. At the time, I didn't know dookie about Pomus and Shuman, but I knew a great song when I heard one, and I found it tremendously gratifying when the ska band the English Beat had the good sense and taste to cover it in 1980.

4) In 1944, when he was 16, Williams was hired by director Howard Hawks to sing vocals that were to be dubbed over the voice of the musically inexperienced 19 year old Lauren Bacall in To Have And Have Not.

Were Williams' vocals used in the film in scenes such as the one below, in which she awkwardly lip-synchs "How Little We Know" with Hoagy Carmichael at the keys? Despite the persistence of the story, Hawks and Bacall said no. But in a 2000 interview, Williams said: “I really wish, now, it had never happened, because now when people ask me if that’s my voice on the screen I have to compromise and say ‘maybe’.”

Below, "How Little We Know," two versions of "Can't Get Used To Losing You" and "The Most Wonderful Time Of The Year."

Previously: Follow The Money: Treme Returns Follow In the Mix on Twitter

Dan DeLuca Inquirer Music Critic
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Dan DeLuca Inquirer Music Critic
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