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Mr. Williams‘ act was, apparently, not an act. The singer’s unflappable manner on television and in concert was mirrored offstage.

“I guess I’ve never really been aggressive, although almost everybody else in show business fights and gouges and knees to get where they want to be,” he once said. “My trouble is, I’m not constructed temperamentally along those lines.”

He was born Howard Andrew Williams in Wall Lake, Iowa, on Dec. 3, 1927. In his memoir, Mr. Williams remembered himself as a shy boy who concealed his insecurity “behind a veneer of cheek and self-confidence.”

Mr. Williams began performing with his older brothers Dick, Bob and Don in the local Presbyterian church choir. Their father, postal worker and insurance man Jay Emerson Williams, was the choirmaster and the force behind his children’s career.

Mr. Williams was a lifelong Republican who once accused President Obama of “following Marxist theory.” But he acknowledged experimenting with LSD, opposed the Nixon administration’s efforts in the 1970s to deport John Lennon and in 1968 was an energetic supporter of Robert F. Kennedy’s presidential campaign. When Kennedy was assassinated in Los Angeles in June 1968, just after winning the California Democratic primary, Mr. Williams sang “The Battle Hymn of the Republic” at his funeral.

After leaving TV, Mr. Williams headed back on the road, where his many Christmas shows and albums made him a huge draw during the holidays. He decided to settle in Branson, with its dozens of theaters featuring live music, comedy and magic acts, and was among the first wave of national entertainers to perform there regularly.

When he arrived in 1992, the town was dominated by country music performers, but Mr. Williams changed that, building his classy, $13 million theater in the heart of the entertainment district and performing two shows a night, six days a week, nine months of the year. Only in recent years did he begin to cut back to one show a night.