Patty Andrews, the last living member of the famous Andrews Sisters trio, passed away today at the age of 94. The songstress died of natural causes.
Patty was the lead singer, and I have to say her animated expressions never failed to draw my attention! The girls (actual sisters, born in Minneapolis) were the daughters of a Greek father and Norwegian mother, both immigrants to the US. It seems so fitting that their very talented daughters would go on to provide so much to so many men in uniform as they served the nation overseas.
Not only did Patty, LaVerne, and Maxene harmonize beautifully, they danced about the stage. This actually put quite a few potential record companies off at first, but persistence (much of it their mother’s) led to the girls landing a contract with Decca Records. Their recording of the fabulous “Bei Mir Bist Du Schon” was a smash, and the girls were off to the races after that!
During World War II, the ladies spent a great deal of time entertaining Allied troops in the US, Africa, and Italy; they also pushed War Bonds and apparently even helped Bette Davis found the Hollywood Canteen (where the ladies could frequently be found performing for the servicemen).
Though they performed wonderfully together, the girls didn’t always get along like peaches and cream. There were a few spats, and after the eldest, LaVerne, passed away in 1967, the remaining sisters lost the family peacemaker and were often at odds during the rest of Maxene’s life. When asked about the disagreements, though, Patty would make a joke and move on.
At any rate, when they WERE singing, they did so wonderfully; the only time an Andrews sister song will leave anything other than a smile on your face is when they’re singing one of their more potent ballads. As others have noted, they did more than just sing and dance—they could really manipulate their voices so that they were instruments, too. What gifted women!
I’m not sure how many people will really note Patty’s passing. “End of an era” seems a bit much, but I’m not sure we can overestimate how much the Andrews Sisters brought to our troops, especially those overseas, during the war.
Rest in peace, Patty—and thank you for the marvellous music. I hope you’re greeted by not just your sisters, but the swing band to beat all!