Moon River: Wikis


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"Moon River" is a song composed by Johnny Mercer (lyrics) and Henry Mancini (music) in 1961, for whom it won that year's Academy Award for Best Original Song. It was originally sung in the movie Breakfast at Tiffany's by Audrey Hepburn, although it has been covered by many other artists. The song also won the 1962 Grammy Award for Record of the Year.[1]

It became the theme song for Andy Williams, who first recorded it in 1961 and performed it at the Academy Awards ceremonies in 1962. He sang the first eight bars at the beginning of his television show and also named his production company and venue in Branson, Missouri after it. Williams' version was vetoed by Cadence Records president Archie Bleyer, who believed it had little or no appeal to teenagers.[citation needed] Andy Williams' version never charted, except as an LP track, which he recorded for Columbia in a hit album of 1962.

The success of the song was responsible for re-launching Mercer's career as a songwriter, which had stalled in the mid-1950s because rock and roll replaced jazz standards as the popular music of the time. An inlet near Savannah, Georgia, Johnny Mercer's hometown, was named Moon River in honor of him and this song. The popularity of the song is such that it has been used as a test sample in a study on people's memories of popular songs.[2]

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Comments about the song have noted that it is particularly reminiscent of Mercer's youth in the Southern United States.[3]





Mercer and Mancini wrote the song for Audrey Hepburn to fit her vocal range. Initially, the lyrics started, "I'm Holly, like I want to be / like Holly on a tree back home ..."; however, they were later changed to fit the theme of the movie Breakfast at Tiffany's.

Although an instrumental version is played over the film's opening titles, the lyrics are first heard in a scene where Paul "Fred" Varjak (George Peppard) discovers Holly Golightly (Hepburn) singing them, accompanied by her guitar, on the fire escape outside their apartments.

There was an eruption of much behind-the-scenes consternation when a Paramount Pictures executive suggested deleting the song from the film immediately after a very successful San Francisco preview. Hepburn's reaction was described by Mancini and others in degrees varying from her saying "over my dead body" to her using somewhat more colorful language to make the same point.[citation needed]

Hepburn's version was not included in the original movie soundtrack. Instead, an album version recorded by Mancini and his chorus was released as a single and became a number 11 hit. In different versions, Joel Whitburn's "Top Adult (Contemporary) Songs" reported the song as a #3 or #1 easy listening hit, due to unpublished charts in Billboard. Only months after Hepburn's death in 1993 her version was released on an album entitled Music from the Films of Audrey Hepburn.


"Moon River" was released by South African singer Danny Williams, and reached the UK number one. It remains the most memorable version of the song in the UK to this day. Shortly thereafter, Andy Williams recorded the song and made it his theme song. It was a hit for Jerry Butler in 1961, reaching number 11 in the Billboard charts. Other artists that have covered the song are Aretha Franklin, David Burnham, Lena Horne, The Afghan Whigs, Benny Anderssons Orkester, Paul Anka, Blake, Louis Armstrong, Vic Damone, Vince Guaraldi, Beru Revue, Mary Black, Sarah Brightman, Liz Callaway, Perry Como, Ben E. King,Greyhound, Ray Conniff, Bobby Darin, Ania Dąbrowska, Dr. John, Dump, Billy Eckstine, The Four Freshmen, Connie Francis, Bill Frisell (instrumental), Emi Fujita, Judy Garland, Karel Gott, Grant Green (instrumental), Patty Griffin, The Innocence Mission (although this version is sometimes incorrectly cited as being performed by Milla Jovovich), Bradley Joseph (instrumental), Kim Yoo-jin, James Last, Trini Lopez, Lisa Ono, Joey McIntyre, Johnny Mathis, Brad Mehldau, Jane Monheit, Morrissey, Patsy Ann Noble, Eddi Reader, Jim Reeves, John Barrowman, R.E.M., Mia Riddle, Nicole Henry, Andrea Ross, Frank Sinatra, Barbra Streisand for "The Movie Album" (2003), Sarah Vaughan, Nan Vernon, Kid Koala, Westlife, Victoria Williams, The Divine Comedy, Tata Young, Gary Schnitzer (instrumental) Pete Mayer, Helmut Lotti, Chiara Civello, and Christine Collister, Oscar Peterson (solo piano).

Mercer himself recorded the song in 1974 for his album (appropriately named) My Huckleberry Friend.


  • Mina performed the song in Canzonissima, the Italian Broadcasting Service series of variety.
  • Elton John performed the song in his Solo Tour 2003, including the Palais de Festival in Cannes.
  • Jennifer Love Hewitt performs the song in the biopic The Audrey Hepburn Story, in which Hewitt portrays the actress.
  • On the singing contest American Idol, Anwar Robinson performed the song during the 2005 season, and Jason Yeager performed the song during the 2008 season.
  • Canadian turntablist Kid Koala has performed a live version of "Moon River" as part of his sets, mixing and scratching the song on 3 turntables.
  • In the 1996 Hong Kong film Si Mian Xia Wa ('Four Faces of Eve'), a drunken Chinese man in a nightclub attempts to sing a karaoke version of "Moon River". He sings the lyric in English but with a strong Kowloon accent. His pronunciation of "huckleberry friend" sounds very much like "huckerbelly flend".
  • Singer/songwriter Patrick Wolf has also sung the opening four lines live as an introduction to his song "The Stars".
  • It was sung by Niamh on I'd Do Anything.
  • On the 2003 show, American Juniors, the song was performed by 11 year old contestant, Chauncey Matthews.
  • In 2009 fashion designer [4]Malan Breton of Project Runway Season 3 performed the song live at a dedication ceremony to Johnny Mercer's 100th.
  • Eric Clapton performed the song at the London O2 Arena on February 13th and 14th and at Madison Square Garden in New York on February 17th and 18th of 2010 as part of his shows with fellow guitar great Jeff Beck.

Other appearances

  • In Episode 3.4 of the TV sitcom Cheers, the version of the song sung by Andy Williams can be heard on the tape played by Sam.
  • In the hit TV series Northern Exposure Louis Armstrong's version of "Moon River" is featured during the show "Aurora Borealis, A Fairy Tale for Big People."
  • In the TV series Gossip Girl the instrumental of "Moon River" plays when Blair Waldorf dreams of being in Serena Van Der Woodsen's shadow. The instrumental plays again when Blair finds out Serena is the model that replaced her for the photo shoot of her mother's clothing line.
  • In the 1985 film Fletch when the lead character, portrayed by Chevy Chase, starts singing the song as he is given a rectal examination.
  • It was used in a 1992 TV advertisement for the British building society Nationwide.
  • The song makes an appearance in an episode of Family Matters when Steve Urkel (who is in the hospital for appendicitis) sings it to Carl Winslow while the latter is in the hospital after being shot in the bottom.
  • The song appeared twice on The Simpsons: once on the season seven episode "Bart on the Road" in the sequence where Bart, Milhouse, Nelson, and Martin travel to Brason, Missouri (or as Homer once called it, "Vegas, if it were run by Ned Flanders") and Nelson forces Bart to stop at an Andy Williams concert where Williams sings Moon River (and Nelson is the only one who's enamored with the performance), and again on the season 21 episode "Once Upon a Time in Springfield" where, after Krusty dumps Penelope at the altar, Penelope moves to Paris, France and performs a sad, guitar rendition of Moon River for cafe patrons (two of which are Belgian comic strip characters, Tintin and Captain Haddock).
  • An elevator music version is featured in the 2002 film Minority Report.
  • The song is sung in Spanish with a guitar accompaniment by the main character in a pivotal scene of the 2004 film La Mala educación (Bad Education) directed by Pedro Almodóvar.
  • The song makes an appearance in the Japanese anime, Honey and Clover. It is Mayama's cell ringtone for when Rika calls and Morita also parodies the tune a couple of times.
  • The song was the background music of the hit Korean TV series Lovers in Paris, where it was always played when the mood of the scenes become dramatic.
  • The song was played in a dance sequence involving Prior Walter and Louis Ironson in the Pulitzer Prize winning play Angels in America.
  • The Andy Williams version of the song was chosen as the wake-up call on Day 5 of STS-95 for Payload Specialist John Glenn. It was played on Day 2 of the STS-115 mission for Commander Brent Jett.
  • The song is played in the 1989 film Born on the Fourth of July during the dance scene between Ron Kovic (Tom Cruise) and Donna (Kyra Sedgwick). Later in the film, Ron tells her that it was the most memorable thing he remembers back in high school and proceeds to sing the chorus to her.
  • Chris Berman of ESPN sings part of the song often when there is a highlight featuring San Diego Chargers' quarterback Philip Rivers.
  • A later Blake Edwards film, Curse of the Pink Panther features the Surete's main computer humming a backwards version of the song as a result of Dreyfus tampering with its programming.
  • The video "Moon River" from the debut album of Andrea Ross features the Piscataqua River and was filmed in Portsmouth, New Hampshire.
  • The Andy Williams version of the song appears in the season four finale of Sex and the City titled "I Heart NY". Mr Big plays the song for Carrie when she stops by one night and she learns he is moving to Napa. He then leaves her the album in case "she gets lonely". The instrumental version of the song is played at the end while Carrie reflects on the end of an era, and the beginning of a new one. This is one of many examples people use connecting Carrie to Holly from Breakfast in Tiffany's. It is available on the Sex and the City Official Soundtrack album.
  • In the 2006 movie Take the Lead, an instrumental version of "Moon River" can be heard in the background as Antonio Banderas' character (Pierre Dulaine) is dancing in the first four minutes of the movie.
  • In 2007, Barney Kessel's "Moon River Cha Cha" is used in a MasterCard commercial named "That would go great with that!" which shows a girl shopping in New York—including a brief moment of window shopping at, appropriately, Tiffany's.
  • Katey Sagal's character Peggy Bundy is seen singing "Moon River" in an episode of Married With Children.
  • The movie Elizabethtown contains a scene where Susan Sarandon's character, a woman who has just been widowed, tap dances at her husband's memorial service as a tribute to his "favorite song to dance to on a Saturday night." The song is also played during the closing credits.
  • The book Shock Wave by Clive Cussler features the main characters singing the song at many points in the story.
  • In the movie Kate and Leopold, Kate (Meg Ryan) and Leopold (Hugh Jackman) listen to the song with a neighbor.
  • In the season 5 episode of Gilmore Girls, when Emily and Richard renew their wedding vows, "Moon River" is played in the background when Rory and Logan dance.
  • In season 3 of Cold Case - ep. "Debut", the song is played several times through the episode, with a vocal version closing the episode.
  • "Moon River" was played at John F. Kennedy's funeral, as it was a favorite song of his.
  • In the 1995 film The Net, Angela Bennett (played by Sandra Bullock) is talking with Jack Devlin (played by Jeremy Northam) about the film Breakfast At Tiffany's in which "Moon River" is sung. They both sing the first line to the song together.
  • Moon River is referenced in The Killers' song "A Dustland Fairytale" which appeared on the 2008 album Day & Age.
  • Melissa Rycroft and Tony Dovolani performed to "Moon River" in week one of season 8 of Dancing with the Stars.
  • It was sung by Akanishi Jin of KAT-TUN in their 2004-2005 Live Kaizokuban Concert at the Yokohama Arena.
  • Acoustic rendition bookends the 2004 Arnaud Desplechin-directed film Kings and Queen.
  • In the film Deer Hunter, it's played for some of the dances in the wedding scenes.
  • In 2010 series of joint concerts by Jeff Back and Eric Clapton, the song was played as an encore number with Beck playing the melody on the guitar and then Clapton singing the lyrics.


The song "Moon River" featured in the 1989 film "Born on the Fourth of July" starring Tom Cruise; it was used as a symbol of the romantic innocence of American youth, lost in the Vietnam War.

External links

Preceded by
"Never on Sunday" from Never on Sunday
Academy Award for Best Original Song
Succeeded by
"Days of Wine and Roses" from Days of Wine and Roses
Preceded by
"Tower of Strength" by Frankie Vaughan
UK number one single
(Danny Williams' version)

December 28, 1961 (for 2 weeks)
Succeeded by
"The Young Ones" by Cliff Richard and The Shadows

Simple English

Moon River is a popular song and the actress Audrey Hepburn sang it in the movie Breakfast at Tiffany's. Henry Mancini wrote the song's music and Johnny Mercer wrote the words. Many other people have sung this song. It was one of Andy Williams' most famous songs.


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