The Andrews Sisters were an American close harmony singing group of the swing and boogie-woogie eras. The group consisted of three sisters: contralto LaVerne Sophia (July 6, 1911 – May 8, 1967), soprano Maxine Angelyn "Maxene" (January 3, 1916 – October 21, 1995), and mezzo-soprano Patricia Marie "Patty" (February 16, 1918 – January 30, 2013).
The Andrews Sisters were born in Minnesota to a Greek immigrant father a Norwegian American mother. Both parents encouraged their daughters’ musical endeavors with Patty being just 7 years old when the sisters formed their singing group.
The sisters gained local recognition in their home town imitating another famous singing group The Boswell Sisters. Opportunities slowly came the sisters’ way to sing with various dance bands and tour with vaudeville acts, such as Ted Mack, Leon Belasco and bandleader Larry Rich. The Andrew Sisters gained national attention with their late 1930s recordings and radio broadcasts, and their Decca Records’ hit, “Bei Mir Bist Du Schön.”
By 1940 the sisters had become a household name and recorded one hit after another. For a decade the sisters were highly successful and became world-famous; however, by 1951 the trio had broken up when Patty departed the band and formed another band with her husband, without telling her sisters. This caused a bitter break-up and separation for two years.
The trio reunited in 1956, signing a new record contract with Capitol Records and releasing a number of hit singles and albums. 1962 saw the sisters churn out hits, including "I Left My Heart In San Francisco," "Still," "The End of the World," "Puff the Magic Dragon," "Sailor" and "Satin Doll." The sisters toured extensively throughout the 1960s, until LaVerne became sick with cancer and died in 1967. Maxene and Patty continued to perform as a duo until 1968, when Maxene took a teaching position as the Dean of Women at Tahoe Paradise College, which left Patty to pursue a solo career once again.
The 1970's saw artists such as Bette Midler revive The Andrew Sisters music by covering their song "Boogie Woogie Bugle Boy" in 1972. The next year, the pair debuted on Broadway in the Sherman Brothers' nostalgic World War II musical, “Over Here!” which premiered at the Shubert Theatre to rave reviews. This was a follow-up to Patty's success in “Victory Canteen,” a 1971 California revue. “Over Here!” starred Maxene and Patty and was written with both sisters in mind for the leads.
Shortly after the duo separated once again and pursued solo careers with Maxene going on to have a successful career as a cabaret soloist and touring worldwide for the next 15 years. In 1985, Maxene recorded a solo album, "Maxene: An Andrews Sister" for Bainbridge Records.
Patty also began her own solo career in the early 1980s, but did not receive the critical acclaim of her sister. The two sisters reunited in 1987 when they received a star on Hollywood's Walk of Fame. In 1995, Maxene suffered her second heart attack, and died at Cape Cod Hospital in New York on October 21, 1995. Patty died of natural causes at her home in Northridge, California, on January 30, 2013 at the age of 94.