Thursday, January 31, 2013
THE LAST OF THE ANDREW SISTERS
The very last of the Andrew Sisters left us yesterday at age 94 of natural causes. The Andrew Sisters, bar none, were perhaps the most famous of all the girl singer groups and the ones who were the fiercest at each other's throat fighting over money instead of continuing the amazing harmony and gift of music that God had given each of them. Patty was the Andrews in the middle, the lead singer and chief clown, whose raucous jitterbugging delighted American servicemen abroad and audiences at home. She could also deliver sentimental ballads like "I'll Be with You in Apple Blossom Time" with a sincerity that caused hardened GIs far from home to weep. From the late 1930s through the 1940s, the Andrews Sisters produced one hit record after another, beginning with "Bei Mir Bist Du Schoen" in 1937 and continuing with "Beat Me Daddy, Eight to the Bar," ''Rum and Coca- Cola" (written by my dear friend Morey Amsterdam of "dick Van Dyke" fame) and more. They recorded more than 400 songs and sold over 80 million records, several of them gold (over a million copies) Other sisters, notably the Boswells, had become famous as singing acts, but mostly they huddled before a microphone in close harmony. The Andrews Sisters - LaVerne, Maxene and Patty - added a new dimension. During breaks in their singing, they cavorted about the stage in rhythm to the music.
Their voices combined with perfect synergy. As Patty remarked in 1971: "There were just three girls in the family. LaVerne had a very low voice. Maxene's was kind of high, and I was between. It was like God had given us voices to fit our parts."The Andrews's rise coincided with the advent of swing music, and their style fit perfectly into the new craze. They aimed at reproducing the sound of three harmonizing trumpets."I was listening to Benny Goodman and to all the bands," Patty once remarked. "I was into the feel, so that would go in to my own musical ability. I was into swing. I loved the brass section.Unlike other singing acts, the sisters recorded with popular bands of the '40s, fitting neatly into the styles of Benny Goodman, Glenn Miller, Jimmy Dorsey, Bob Crosby, Woody Herman, Guy Lombardo, Desi Arnaz and Russ Morgan. They sang dozens of songs on records with Bing Crosby, including the million-seller "Don't Fence Me In." They also recorded with Dick Haymes, Carmen Miranda, Danny Kaye, Al Jolson, Jimmy Durante and Red Foley. The two sisters Patty and Maxene joined forces in 1974 for the Sherman Brother musical "Over Here", The show wa sa hit but money again raised its ugly head first with the producers themselves and then Patty's husband wanted a percentage of the show after giving suggestions to songwriters Bob and Dick Sherman, who had accepted and incorporated these suggestions into the show as a genuine show helping gesture. There are no show helping gestures that don't cost us, dear readers. Today is the 91st birthday of Carol Channing and it would have been Eddie Cantor's who was born in 1892. I loved Eddie Cantor. It would also would have been Mario Lanza's birthday who was born in 1921 and dear Suzanne Pleshette who was born in 1937.
Suzanne of course starred in the last movie that Walt Disney was alive for called "Blackbeard's Ghost." She was the perfect partner for Bob Newhart in the six years of their show together on CBS.