When you think of hits such as Boogie Woogie Bugle Boy, Cirbiribin, Don’t Sit Under the Apple Tree and I’ll Be with You in Apple Blossom Time then the 1940s and the Andrews Sisters come to mind.
But, who were the Andrew Sisters?
The group consisted of three sisters LaVerne Sophia, Maxene Angelyn and Patricia “Patty” Marie.
The sisters were born to a Greek immigrant, Peter Andreos and his wife, Olga. The name was later anglicized as Andrews.
LaVerne was born in 1911, Maxene in 1916 and Patty in 1918 in Minnesota.
The girls began singing together at a young age and developed a great love for music.
The group began when Patty, the youngest, was only seven years old.
LaVerne, the oldest daughter, would accompany silent films on the piano in exchange for free dancing letters for all three girls.
Within five years the group one first prize in a talent contest held at Orpheum Theatre in Minneapolis.
After their father’s restaurant fell, the sisters spent their time on the road to support the family.
By 1937, they came to national attention from their radio broadcast and recordings.
During World War II they rose to the pinnacle of fame and actively fulfilled their Patriotic duty. The sisters travelled the world performing for the allied forces. They also helped to found the famous Hollywood Canteen, alongside Bette Davis and John Garflied.
From 1944-1951 they hosed their own radio show.
They would record 47 songs with crooner Bing Crosby.
The sisters combined in seventeen Hollywood movies together. They were also the most sought after singers in theater shows during the 1940s and 1950s.
In 1950, Patty married the groups pianist, Walter Weschler, and decided to break away for a solo career. Her sisters learned the news from the gossip columns which lead to a two year separation.
The two remaining sisters, Maxene and LaVerne continued as a duo until Maxene’s suicide attempt in December 1954 halted future tours.
In 1956, the trio reunited and recorded a series of singles.
In 1967, the oldest sister, LaVerne, died from cancer. She was only fifty-five years old.
While the two remaining sisters periodically performed together, they primarily went their own way. Maxene went on to teach at a Lake Tahoe college and Patty continued her solo career.
In 1974, the sisters premiered on Broadway in the Sherman Brothers’ World War II musical, Over Here!
While a success, the musical was the last time the sisters would sing together.
The sisters became estrained over the years. Maxene had a career as a cabaret soloist.
On October 1, 1987 the Andrews Sisters received a Hollywood Walk of Fame star and both surviving sisters attended the ceremony.
Maxene died from a heart attack on October 21, 1995. Not long before she died, Maxene told music historian William Ruhlmann, “I have nothing to regret. We got on the carousel and we each got the ring and I was satisfied with that. There’s nothing I would do to change things if I could…Yes, I would. I wish I had the ability and the power to bridge the gap between my relationship with my sister, Patty.”
Bob Hope said of Maxene’s passing, “She was more than part of The Andrews Sisters, much more than a singer. She was a warm and wonderful lady who shared her talent and wisdom with others.”
Patty died of natural causes on January 30, 2013 at the age of 94.
The group was inducted into the Vocal Group Hall of Fame in 1998.
The sisters are the most imitated of all female singing groups.
They are still widely acclaimed for the famous close harmonies even today.