Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Passings: Patty Andrews, Last of the Andrews Sisters (1918 - 2013)

Patty Andrews, the last surviving member of the phenomenally popular 40's group the Andrews Sisters, died on Wednesday at her home in the Northridge area of Los Angeles at the age of 94. Her spokesperson said she passed of natural causes.

The three Andrews Sisters formed their group when Patty was only seven and, five years later, they won their first talent contest at the Orpheum Theatre in Minneapolis, MN. They pattered their sound after the Boswell Sisters and spent a number of years touring the vaudeville theaters with the likes of Ted Mack and Leon Belasco.

In 1938, they signed to Decca Records and their first release, Bei Mir Bist Du Schoen, shot to the top of the charts. Between that first hit and 1951, they scored 113 top thirty records, 46 of which reached the top ten and eight hitting number 1, and recorded with such stars as Carmen Miranda, Guy Lombardo, Ernest Tubb and Russ Morgan. They recorded 47 songs with Bing Crosby, 23 of which were hit, making theirs one of the most successful collaborations in music history.

During World War II, the group toured the world entertaining the troops and they appeared in seventeen movies including Buck Privates with Abbott and Costello, a series of B-musicals and two Disney cartoons, Make Mine Music and Melody Time. On the radio, they hosted their own shows from 1948 to 1951.

In 1951, Patty decided to leave the group, a fact that her two sisters learned from gossip columnists. The situation caused a rift where the sisters didn't talk for two years and didn't reunite until 1956 when they signed with Capitol. Unfortunately, none of their records, including some that had a rock-and-roll feel, made it to the charts.

They continued to record and tour until 1967 when LaVerne, the oldest of the three sisters, died of cancer. Patty and Maxene toured for another year until Maxene decided to take a job in the academic world leaving Patty to once again go solo.

In 1974, the two sisters once again came together to star on Broadway in Over Here!. The show was a success but a road tour was cancelled after Patty's husband sued the producers. Maxine and Patty never worked together again although they did appear at the unveiling of their Hollywood Walk of Fame star in 1987. Maxine died in 1995 after suffering a heart attack.

Patty was married twice, to Marty Melcher from 1947 to 1949 and to Walter Weschler, the trio's pianist, from 1951 until his death in 2010.

The Andrews Sisters top five hits:
  • Bei Mir Bist Du Schoen (1938/#1)
  • Hold Tight, Hold Tight (1939/#2)
  • Beer Barrel Polka (1939/#4)
  • Well All Right (Tonight's the Night) (1939/#5)
  • Yodelin' Jive (with Bing Crosby) (1939/#4)
  • Say Si Si (Para Vigo Me Voy) (1940/#4)
  • Ferryboat Serenade (1940/#1)
  • Beat Me Daddy, Eight to the Bar (1940/#2)
  • (I'll Be With You) In Apple Blossom Time (1941/#5)
  • The Shrine of St. Cecelia (1942/#3)
  • Pistol Packin' Mama (with Bing Crosby) (1943/#3 Pop/#1 Country)
  • Victory Polka (with Bing Crosby) (1943/#5)
  • Shoo-Shoo Baby (1943/#1)
  • Is You Is Or Is You Ain't My Baby (with Bing Crosby) (1944/#2)
  • A Hot Time in the Town of Berlin (with Bing Crosby) (1944/#1)
  • Don't Fence Me In (with Bing Crosby) (1944/#1)
  • Rum and Coca Cola (1945/#1)
  • Accentuate the Positive (with Bing Crosby) (1945/#2)
  • Along the Navajo Trail (with Bing Crosby) (1945/#2)
  • South America, Take It Away (with Bing Crosby) (1946/#2)
  • Rumours Are Flying (with Les Paul) (1946/#4)
  • Near You (1947/#2)
  • Civilization (Bongo, Bongo, Bongo) (with Danny Kaye) (1947/#3)
  • Toolie Oolie Doolie (The Yodel Polka) (1948/#3)
  • Underneath the Arches (1948/#5)
  • I'm Bitin' My Fingernails and Thinking of You (with Ernest Tubb) (1949/#30 Pop/#2 Country)
  • I Can Dream, Can't I? (1949/#1)
  • I Wanna Be Loved (1950/#1)

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