Dick Williams, who partnered with Andy Williams and their older brothers in a foursome that performed on the radio, in the movies and with Kay Thompson in a popular nightclub act, has died. He was 91.
Williams died Saturday of natural causes in Burbank, publicist Harlan Boll announced.
The Williams Brothers — Andy, Dick, Bob and Don — arrived in Los Angeles from the Midwest and sang with Bing Crosby on the 1944 hit record “Swinging on a Star.” Later, they teamed with Thompson, a big radio star, to form one of the highest-paid nightclub acts in the world.
Thompson, who also headed the vocal department at MGM, employed the brothers in the studio choir, and they worked on films including Anchors Aweigh (1945), Ziegfeld Follies (1945), The Harvey Girls (1946) and Good News (1947).
They also appeared in the musicals Janie (1944), Kansas City Kitty (1944), Something in the Wind (1947) and Ladies’ Man (1947).
Andy Williams, whose fabled solo career included the hit songs “Moon River,” “Days of Wine and Roses” and “Where Do I Begin?,” died in September 2012 at age 84. Bob, the oldest of the four, died in September 2003 at age 85.
Dick Williams was born in Wall Lake, Iowa, on June 7, 1926. He attended Western Hills High School in Cincinnati and University High School in West Los Angeles.
He and his brothers had formed their quartet in late 1938, and they first performed on the radio on WHO in Des Moines, Iowa.
Dick joined Don in the U.S. Merchant Marine in 1944 and served until the end of World War II.
The Williams Brothers had their act with Thompson from 1947 until 1953, when all went their separate ways. Dick went on to sing with Harry James’ band, appear on The Tennessee Ernie Ford Show and work on Broadway with Nancy Walker in 1957’s Copper and Brass.
Later, Dick sang on hundreds of commercials and did choral arrangements for Andy in L.A. and Branson, Missouri, and for Steve Lawrence & Edye Gorme and Julie Andrews.
He was the choir director and featured soloist at Encino Community Church in L.A. for many years and continued to sing, arrange and write well into his 80s.
In addition to his brother Don, 95, survivors include his wife of 42 years, Barbara; children Mark, Jason and Amanda; and six grandchildren.