Jimmy Osmond pays tribute to Andy Williams, his ‘lifelong friend and mentor’

By ROBIN LEACH

As the youngest Osmond, tiny Jimmy at age 3 had no idea who Andy Williams was when he walked onstage to sing and dance along to “Red Roses for a Blue Lady.” “I was just a mascot kid,” he told me recalling his first-ever TV appearance back in the 1960s on THE ANDY WILLIAMS SHOW.

Incredibly, and as unique and unusual a showbiz tale if ever there was one, Jimmy wound up later on being asked by the legendary crooner to continue his legacy, even selling him The Andy Williams Theater in Branson, Mo., to produce family shows at what would become The Andy Williams Performing Arts Center & Theatre.

“It’s a bizarre history,” admitted Jimmy, who stars for two nights Saturday and Sunday at Suncoast with the tribute show MOON RIVER AND ME. “If you had told me when I was just a toddler that one day I’d own his theater, I would have never believed it.

“I was scared to death when later in life he said that he wanted me to continue his legacy and gave me all of his archives. I had to please the boss, though. My father, an Army sergeant, drilled that into me that I couldn’t say no. Andy became my lifelong friend and mentor.”

Jimmy told me that this weekend’s two Las Vegas dates kick off a world tour of his salute to Andy. “We have 80 shows between now and the end of the year,” he added. “The music means so much to so many people, I have to keep it going. We always close every show with ‘Moon River’ because it was the biggest hit and happiest memory for his fans.”

“Moon River,” written by Henry Mancini and Johnny Mercer, was performed by Andy at the 1962 Academy Awards and went on to become his theme show for THE ANDY WILLIAMS SHOW, which won three Emmy Awards.

“I also sing Andy’s hit ‘Danny Boy’ as a tribute to our veterans,” continued Jimmy. “In New Mexico once, I had an Army veteran tell me that he left to go off to serve his country in the war and returned home never to see his mother again who had sung the song to him before shipping out. So ‘Danny Boy’ has very special memories and meaning to lots of veterans.

“My brother, Jay, will be one of our guests along with 18-year-old Charlie Green, an BRITAIN’S GOT TALENT finalist who has an amazing velvet voice.

“These Las Vegas shows will be different from the annual Andy Williams Christmas shows we do starting in November. That was always Andy’s pet project with his nostalgia and film footage we use. We get calls from all over the world all the time wanting us to do the show.”

Jimmy summed up: “There were times growing up that I never thought a showbiz career would last, but it has for half a century. So this has been really cool now for 50 years, and keeping Andy’s memory alive is the most special part.”

Jimmy Osmond performs at Suncoast Showroom at 8:30 p.m. Saturday and Sunday.

Article originally posted a ReviewJournal.com

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