The Andrews Sisters

Active - 1946 - 1946  |   Born - Jan 1, 1915   |   Genres - Musical, Comedy, Romance

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Biography by Hal Erickson

Called upon to help support their Greek-Norwegian family when their father's business was wiped out by the Depression, little Laverne, Patty, and Maxene Andrews began their professional singing career. In their first radio and vaudeville appearances, the Andrews girls consciously emulated the closely harmonic Boswell Sisters, but by the late '30s the Andrews Sisters had developed their own breezy style. Scoring their first hit in 1937 with "Bei Mist Du Schoen," the Andrews Sisters quickly rose to the top of the show biz heap which enhanced their popularity on network radio. In 1940, they signed a contract with Universal Pictures, and for the next six years were starred or co-starred in a dizzying array of A- and B-pictures. They were shown to best advantage in three Abbott and Costello films, notably Buck Privates (1941), in which they performed such enduring hits as "Boogie Woogie Bugle Boy" and "Apple Blossom Time." During their Hollywood years, Patty Andrews, the most personable and energetic of the trio, emerged as the leader of the group, with Maxene Andrews and Laverne Andrews (both of whom looked uncomfortable in glamorous Hollywood makeup and costumes) shunted to the background. Though the Andrews Sisters' films were popular, Patty Andrews always felt that she and the others came across as somewhat grotesque: "We looked like the Ritz Brothers in drag." After a guest appearance in Road to Rio (1947) and a voice-over stint in the Disney animated feature Melody Time (1948), the Andrews Sisters and Hollywood parted company. The act endured several breakups and reconciliations over the next decade, but by the mid-'60s they were in vogue again thanks to the burgeoning nostalgia craze. After Laverne Andrews died in 1967, Patty Andrews and Maxene Andrews reunited for the short-lived campy Broadway musical Over Here. Though retired, the Andrews Sisters enjoyed a resurgence of popularity in 1971 when Bette Midler recorded a lively new rendition of "Boogie Woogie Bugle Boy."