Dick Williams, One of the Four Williams Brothers Passes Away
Dick Williams, born Richard Blaine Williams on June 7th, 1926 Wall Lake, Iowa, USA, passed away on May 5th, 2018 in Burbank, CA USA to natural causesDick Williams (born June 7, 1926, died May 5, 2018) was an American singer and actor. He is the older brother of Andy Williams and with his brothers, Bob, Don and Andy were known as The Williams Brothers. Williams was born in Wall Lake, Iowa, the son of Jay Emerson and Florence (née Finley) Williams.
While living in Cheviot, Ohio, Williams attended Western Hills High School in Cincinnati, Ohio. He finished high school at University High School, in West Los Angeles, because of his family's move to California.
One of his first performances was in a children's choir at the local Presbyterian church. He and his brothers formed the Williams Brothers quartet in late 1938, and they performed on radio in the Midwest, first at WHO, in Des Moines, Iowa. In July 1940 the family moved to Chicago and received a job at WLS, in Chicago, and WLW, in Cincinnati. Moving to Los Angeles in 1943, the Williams Brothers sang with Bing Crosby on the hit record "Swinging on a Star" (1944). They appeared in four musical films: Janie (1944), Kansas City Kitty (1944), Something in the Wind (1947) and Ladies' Man (1947). The Williams Brothers were signed by Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer to appear in Anchors Aweigh and Ziegfeld Follies (1945) but, before they went before the cameras, the oldest brother, Bob, was drafted into military service and the group's contract was canceled.
In 1944 Dick joined his older brother Don in the Merchant Marine and served until the war ended in 1945. Kay Thompson, a former radio star who was then head of the vocal department at MGM, had a nose for talent and hired Don, Dick and Andy to sing in her large choir on many soundtracks for MGM films, including The Harvey Girls (1946). When Bob completed his military service, Kay hired all four brothers to sing on the soundtrack to Good News (1947). By then, Thompson was tired of working behind the scenes at MGM so, with the four Williams boys as her backup singers and dancers, she formed a nightclub act called Kay Thompson and the Williams Brothers. They made their debut in Las Vegas in 1947 and became an overnight sensation. Within a year, they were the highest paid nightclub act in the world, breaking records wherever they appeared. When the Thompson and Williams Brothers act ended in 1953, the brothers broke up and they went their own ways developing their own solo acts. Dick Williams went on to sing with the Harry James band, appeared on the Tennessee Ernie Ford show and later in August 1951 landed on Broadway in Coper & Brass.
During the 1960's Dick was one of the most sought after jingle singers in NY and sang on hundreds of commercials. He also did special material and choral arrangements for his brother Andy, both in LA and later in Branson, Mo, and also for Steve Lawrence and Edye Gorme, the Julie Andrews hour, Perry Como, The Big Show, Palm Spring Follies and The Fabulous Florida Follies. He was the choir director and featured soloist at Encino Community Church for many years and continued to sing, arrange and write well into his 80's. He is survived by his only remaining Williams brother, Don Williams, wife of 42 years, Barbara Ruth-Williams, two sons, Mark and Jason, a daughter, Amanda, and 6 grandchildren. Services are scheduled at Forest Lawn on May 19th.