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Patty Andrews, 94, was last of The Andrews Sisters

Discussion in 'Cartoon News' started by eminovitz, Oct 30, 2013.

  1. eminovitz

    eminovitz Research Guru / Moderator Emeritus

    Oct 30, 2013
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    Patty Andrews, the youngest member and last survivor of the three singing Andrews Sisters, died Wednesday at her home in the Los Angeles suburb of Northridge, California of natural causes, family spokesman Alan Eichler said. She was 94.

    In 1948's Melody Time, a feature-length Disney animated compilation of vignettes, The Andrews Sisters sang "Little Toot,"the story of a small tugboat just wants to be like his dad, Big Toot, but can't seem to keep out of trouble. He's banished beyond the 12-mile limit, but saves an ocean liner as a storm brews. Little Toot was re-released as a standalone short in 1954, again with the voices of the Andrews Sisters.

    The lead singer and the girl in the middle, Patty was also known for her clowning and intense jitterbugging, which gladdened audiences at home and American servicemen abroad during the Second World War. She also sang such sentimental ballads as "I'll Be with You in Apple Blossom Time" with such sincerity that GIs far from home would weep.

    Born in Mound, Minnesota on February 16, 1918, Patricia Marie Andrews was the daughter of Greek Catholic immigrant Peter Andreos (changed to "Andrews" upon arriving in the United States) and Olga Sollie, a Lutheran from Norway who ran a pure food café.

    During a time when teenagers were doing the jitterbug and Uncle Sam was asking young men to enlist, The Andrews Sisters were America's most popular female singing group. Patty, the youngest sister, was a loud and energetic blond who headed the group with her confident vocals. The middle sister was Maxene, a brunette, whose harmonic range gave the impression of four voices instead of three. Finally, completing the trio was the eldest, LaVerne, a strong-willed redhead with a witty sense of humor and an eye for fashion.

    The Andrews Sisters' versatile sound and range in genres explains their longevity in the music industry and popularity with people all over the world. They had major hits in nearly all types of music ranging from swing to country-Western. This tremendous popularity did not stop in the music business. The trio could also be found performing in radio series, commercials, Hollywood movies and on Broadway.

    All born in Minnesota, the three Andrews sisters developed a love for music at an early age. As children, their first experience with music occurred when LaVerne had her two younger sisters sing a musical note around the family's piano. This experience awakened the girls' love for music, and they began spending all of their free time singing and mimicking the successful singers of the time. Some of their first major influences included the Boswell Sisters, Ella Fitzgerald and Mel Torme.

    The girls got their start when Larry Rich hired them to go on tour with his 55-member troupe. In 1932, they stopped touring with Rich, but the girls continued to sing at fairs, vaudeville shows and club acts. While touring, the girls worked hard on their craft and rehearsed daily, sometimes practicing in the back of their father’s Buick while driving to the next show. After six years of living on the road, the girls had their first major success with "Bei Mir Bist Du Schoen," which sold 350,000 copies. The song held the Billboard No. 1 slot for five weeks. This achievement established The Andrews Sisters as successful recording artists, and they became celebrities.

    In the 1940s, the sisters found themselves in high demand, and became the most profitable stage attraction in the entire U.S., earning $20,000 a week. Aside from singing, the sisters were established radio personalities, and made appearances in 17 Hollywood movies. During the mid-1940s, the sisters released eight new singles, six of which became bestsellers; one went gold and another reached platinum status. Some of the hits in the early to mid-1940s include "Boogie Woogie Bugle Boy," "Rum and Coca Cola" and "I'll Be With You In Apple Blossom Time."

    During this time, the sisters were very active in their patriotic duty of wartime entertainment. They volunteered their free time to entertain enlisted and wounded men by singing, dancing and signing autographs. In June 1945, they participated in an eight-week USO tour and performed for thousands of servicemen. They had been hoping to do such a tour since the war started in order to give back to the soldiers that were fighting.

    Back in the States, they recorded "I Can Dream, Can't I?", which is recognized as one of the most artistic, professional and memorable ballads ever recorded. It was No. 1 on the Billboard charts and remained in the top 10 for 20 consecutive weeks. All this success did not come without its share of hardship, however, and in the early 1950s, The Andrews Sisters started to face troubled times. First, Vic Schoen, the trio's bandleader and composer, left the group. This was a huge blow, as he and his orchestra had accompanied the girls in over 90 percent of their recordings. Aside from his constant presence, he was also very skilled in arranging music for the trio.

    Patty tired of being part of a group. In 1954, she left her sisters and attempted a solo career. However, she never matched the success she had with The Andrews Sisters. In Patty's departure, Maxene and LaVerne formed their own act, and were well received by both audiences and critics. In 1956, the sisters decided to reunite both professionally and personally. They began to experiment with a new sound described as a light rock-and-roll, which did not gain popularity with the public, who preferred hearing old hits. At this time, the girls were up against a new wave of talent, such as Elvis Presley and Chuck Berry, and the sisters did not match their previous success.

    In 1967, LaVerne was diagnosed with cancer. She died a year later at 55 in her Brentwood estate. Maxene and Patty decided not to continue performing without LaVerne, and the sisters pursued different careers. Maxene accepted a position at Tahoe Paradise College and eventually became vice-president. Patty continued performing, making guest appearances on a variety of shows, including Lucille Ball's Here's Lucy and The Gong Show. She starred in a Los Angeles musical theater production, Victory Canteen, written by Milt Larsen and Bobby Lauher, with music by Richard and Robert Sherman.

    After the success of Victory Canteen, the Shermans teamed up with Will Holt to write Over Here!, a musical about the Second World War home front, starring Patty and Maxene Andrews. After 341 successful performances, the show closed. The two sisters continued solo careers until the 1990s. In 1995, while on vacation in Cape Cod, Maxene had a heart attack and died. She was 79.

    The surviving sister, Patty, did not do much entertaining afterward, but performed on ships for several different cruise lines.

    The Andrews Sisters sold over 90 million records, recording about 700 songs and earning nine gold records.

    Patty Andrews married her first husband, agent Martin Melcher, in 1947; they were divorced in 1950, and he went on to marry singer Doris Day. She married her second husband, Wally Weschler -- the group's pianist -- in 1951; he died in 2010.


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