Thursday, January 31, 2013

Patty Andrews, Last Surviving Member of the Andrews Sisters, Dead at 94

A fascinating obituary.

At LAT, "Patty Andrews dies at 94; Andrews Sisters' last surviving member":

They were the swinging, sassy voice of the homefront for U.S. service personnel overseas during World War II, singing catchy hit tunes such as "Boogie Woogie Bugle Boy" and "Rum and Coca Cola" that delighted Americans and catapulted the Andrews Sisters to the very top of the pop charts.

One of the most successful female recording groups in pop history, the sisters — LaVerne, Maxene and Patty Andrews — became a beloved American institution, lifting the nation's spirits during a conflict whose outcome seemed often in doubt.

When the war ended in 1945, it was even the Andrews Sisters who announced it, to 5,000 GI's during a USO concert in Italy as the men were heading for duty in the Pacific. The troops' commanding officer had interrupted the show, handing the women a note that was read aloud by the youngest, Patty Andrews.

"At first there was dead silence," her sister Maxene told The Times years later. "Then Patty repeated the message. 'This is really true,' she told them, and then she started to cry. Suddenly there was a roar. They knew they would be going home, and they did."

Patty Andrews, the group's lead singer and its last surviving member, died Wednesday of natural causes at her longtime home in Northridge, according to her attorney, Richard Rosenthal. She was 94. Maxene, the middle Andrews sister, died in 1995 and LaVerne, the eldest, in 1967.

The Andrews Sisters began singing professionally in 1932, when Patty was just 14, and scored their first major success in 1938 with an English version of the Yiddish song "Bei Mir Bist du Schoen" (or "To me, you're grand," as the sisters put it.) The song zoomed to No. 1 and made them overnight stars.
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