The Andrews Sisters: Maxine, Patty
and LaVerne (AP Photo, File)
Patty Andrews was the last surviving member of The Andrews Sisters, the trio that delighted and motivated World War II soldiers, as well as the folks holding down the home front. When she died yesterday at age 94, the Greatest Generation lost another of its shining stars.
The three sisters – LaVerne (1911 – 1967), Maxene (1916 – 1995) and Patty (1918 – 2013) – began singing together as children in Minnesota. Youngest sister and lead singer Patty was just seven when they started the group and only 12 when they won a local talent contest. Soon after, the girls hit the road, performing on the Vaudeville circuit to help support their family. By 1940, the trio had several hit records and The Andrews Sisters were household names.
Their strong voices in tight harmony were intended to sound like the blare of three trumpets, and the successful imitation brought them a long string of hit records – like their best-known song, “Boogie Woogie Bugle Boy.”
The sisters teamed up with another wartime superstar, Bing Crosby, for several of their jazzy hits.
As the group’s lead singer, Patty generally took the solos. Her moments in the spotlight let her show off another talent – she was one heck of a dancer, from perky toe-tapping to wild jitterbugs.
But it wasn’t all uptempo. The sisters also brought many a tear to the eyes of lonely soldiers – and the folks waiting for them at home – with heartbreaking ballads like “I’ll be With You at Apple Blossom Time.”
In the years after the war, The Andrews Sisters’ fame began to falter, and in 1951, Patty left the group, creating a rift between the sisters that was hard to bridge. Each sister did solo work, and the three reunited occasionally, but we remember them best as the top-selling female vocal group of all time – and as the voices of the home front during World War II. It’s hard to see the last sister leave.
Written by Linnea Crowther