Boogie Woogie Bugle girl dies
Memorable: Singer Patty Andrews in 1942. The last survivor of the three singing Andrews sisters died aged 94.
Patty Andrews, who has died aged 94, was the lead singer and soloist with the Andrews Sisters.
The swinging American trio, comprising Patty and her older siblings, LaVerne and Maxene, achieved their greatest success in the 1940s, contributing to the war effort with catchy songs including Boogie Woogie Bugle Boy, Don't Sit Under the Apple Tree (With Anyone Else But Me) and, with Bing Crosby, Don't Fence Me In.
The Andrews Sisters performed at military bases and raised money for war bonds; their hits were sung by the troops and by women working in factories.
Patty, LaVerne and Maxene accompanied the most popular singers and big bands of the day; enjoyed success not just on radio but also in musical comedy films; and spawned a host of other sister acts - not all of whom were real siblings.
Patricia Marie Andrews was born in Minnesota, the third daughter of a Greek immigrant, Peter (who had anglicised his surname), and his Norwegian wife, Olga. The parents ran a restaurant.
Inspired by the success of the Boswell Sisters, the pretty, blonde Patty and her siblings began in vaudeville in the early 1930s.
"There were just three girls in the family," she recalled. "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 sisters toured America with the Larry Rich band and before long were starring at the Hotel Edison in New York with Leon Belasco.
The Andrews family relocated to New York in 1937 and the sisters were offered a recording contract by Decca.
Things took a momentous turn when they recorded Bei Mir Bist Du Schon, Sammy Cahn and Saul Chaplin's revamped version of an old Yiddish standard. It reached No 1 in the US in 1938, establishing Cahn and Chaplin as ace songwriters and making the Andrews Sisters the hottest name in the record business.
The song has now come to be emblematic of the age - often used when a film or TV drama deals with the era of jitterbugs, evacuation and Land Girls, who sang it as they stacked the hay.
Further hits followed for the trio - including Beer Barrel Polka and Hold Tight, Hold Tight (both 1939) - and in 1940 they were signed by Universal Pictures and appeared in the film Argentine Nights with the Ritz Brothers.
They then made two wartime comedies starring Bud Abbott and Lou Costello, Buck Privates and In the Navy (both 1941), and also appeared in Private Buckaroo (1942), which followed new recruits doing their basic training and included the sisters' patriotic We've Got a Job to Do.
The sisters appeared as themselves in the all-star film Hollywood Canteen (1944), about the ever-open cafe for American servicemen, founded by Bette Davis and John Garfield, where Hollywood celebrities volunteered during the war. The sisters' voices were also featured in the Disney cartoon Make Mine Music in 1946.
After the success of the uptempo Beat Me Daddy, Eight to the Bar and the sentimental ballad (I'll Be With You) In Apple Blossom Time, the sisters accompanied Crosby on a No 1 hit, Don't Fence Me In, in 1944. It was one of several successful collaborations with the crooner, including Pistol Packin' Mama, Jingle Bells, Is You Is Or Is You Ain't (Ma Baby) and Ac-Cent-Tchu-Ate the Positive.
The sisters also appeared with him and Bob Hope in Road to Rio (1947). Danny Kaye partnered them on The Woody Woodpecker; and with Carmen Miranda, the trio sang Cuanto Le Gusta.
By themselves, the sisters had number one hits with I Can Dream, Can't I? and I Wanna Be Loved.
In many ways Patty was the most successful member of the group. Certainly, her solos made her the most prominent sister. In the mid-1950s she broke away from the group, but people still wanted more of the Andrews Sisters and they were soon back together.
It was the death of LaVerne in 1967 that eventually broke up the group. In the early '70s Bette Midler had success with her recording of Boogie Woogie Bugle Boy and people once more went looking for the original, which had a renewed success.
In 1974 Maxene and Patty were back in business, starring in a Broadway musical, Over Here!, about the group's wartime success. The show featured a third "borrowed" sister and ran for almost a year, closing after the sisters had an argument.
Patty, who had solo success in Las Vegas and performed on cruise ships, continued to work after Maxene's death in 1995.
In 1947 Patty married Martin Melcher. They divorced in 1950.
Melcher then married Doris Day and, in 1951, Patty married Walter Weschler, the Andrews Sisters' pianist, who also became their manager. Weschler died in 2010.
She is survived by her foster daughter, Pam.