Don Williams, last surviving Williams Brother, has died at 100

The Williams Brothers. Credit: Ray Fisher via Getty Images

Don Williams – the last surviving member of the original Williams Brothers quartet – has died at the age of 100.

The singer’s passing was confirmed by his widow, Jeanne, who told The Hollywood Reporter that he died at his home in Branson, Missouri, on Friday (January 6). His death was owed to “natural causes”.

Like his brothers Andy, Dick and Bob, Don was born in the Iowan city of Wall Lake. He was the second oldest Williams brother – born on October 9, 1922 – and was 16 when the family group started performing in the late ‘30s. Managed by their father Jay, the brothers cut their teeth in radio, singing live for Des Moines’ WHO, Chicago’s WLS and Cincinnati’s WLW.

The early ‘40s saw The Williams Brothers make their pivot into film; they moved to Los Angeles in 1943 and, while contracted at the MGM studio, made appearances in films like Janie (1944), Kansas City Kitty (1944), Ladies’ Man (1947) and Something In The Wild (1947).

Also in 1944, the group linked up with Bing Crosby and minted the hit ‘Swinging On A Star’. This led them to establish a lucrative nightclub act, touring alongside Kay Thompson from 1947 to 1951. The brothers subsequently split their band, but reunited annually – from 1962 until 1990 – for The Andy Williams Christmas Special.

Bob was the first Williams brother to pass, dying at age 84 in September of 2003. He was followed by Andy (who also died at 84) in September of 2012, and then Dick (aged 91) in May of 2018.

As well as Jeanne, Don is survived by his sons Andrew and David. They too performed as The Williams Brothers between the 1970s and 1990s, best known for their Billboard Hot 100 hits ‘Can’t Cry Hard Enough’ and ‘What’s Your Name’.

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