Last of the Andrews Sisters dies
Patty Andrews, the last of the Andrews Sisters, the jaunty vocal trio whose immensely popular music became part of the patriotic fabric of second World War America, died yesterday at her home in Los Angeles. She was 94.
Lynda Wells, a niece, confirmed the death.
With their jazzy renditions of songs like Boogie Woogie Bugle Boy (of Company B), Rum and Coca-Cola and Don't Sit Under the Apple Tree (With Anyone Else but Me), Patty, Maxene and LaVerne Andrews sold war bonds, boosted morale on the home front, performed with Bing Crosby and with the Glenn Miller Orchestra, made movies and entertained thousands of American troops overseas, for whom the women represented the loves and the land the troops had left behind.
Patty, the youngest, was a soprano and sang lead; Maxene handled the high harmony; and LaVerne, the oldest, took the low notes. They began singing together as children; by the time they were teenagers they made up an accomplished vocal group. Modelling their act on the commercially successful Boswell Sisters, they joined a travelling revue and sang at country fairs and in vaudeville shows. Their big break came in 1937 when they were signed by Decca Records, but their first recording went nowhere.
Their second effort featured the popular standard Nice Work If You Can Get It, but it was the flip side that turned out to be pure gold. The song was a Yiddish show tune, Bei Mir Bist Du Schoen (Means That You're Grand), with new English lyrics by Sammy Cahn, and the Andrews Sisters' version, recorded in 1937, became the top-selling record in the country.
Other hits followed, and in 1940 they were signed by Universal Pictures. They appeared in more than a dozen films during the next seven years - sometimes just singing, sometimes also acting. They made their film debut in Argentine Nights, a 1940 comedy that starred the Ritz Brothers, and the next year appeared in three films with Bud Abbott and Lou Costello: Buck Privates, In the Navy and Hold That Ghost. Their film credits also include Swingtime Johnny (1943), Hollywood Canteen (1944) and the Bob Hope-Bing Crosby comedy Road to Rio (1947).
After selling more than 75 million records, the Andrews Sisters broke up in 1953 when Patty decided to go solo. By 1956 they were together again, but musical tastes were changing and they found it hard to adapt. When LaVerne Andrews died of cancer in 1967, no suitable replacement could be found, and Patty and Maxene soon went their separate ways. Patty continued to perform solo, and Maxene joined the staff of a private college in South Lake Tahoe, California.
Patricia Marie Andrews was born on February 16th, 1918, in Minneapolis. Her father, Peter, was a Greek immigrant who changed his name from Andreos to Andrews when he came to the US Her mother, Olga, was Norwegian.