Born in Minnesota on February 16, 1918, Patty Andrews was the youngest of the three girls who grew up to achieve fame as the beloved trio the Andrews Sisters. Singing in harmony with her sisters Maxene and LaVerne, she recorded hundreds of songs in swing and boogie-woogie styles from the late 1930s through the mid-1950s. After the trio disbanded in the late 1960s, Patty Andrews performed as a solo artist. She died in California on January 30, 2013, at age 94.
Family Background and Early Life
Patricia Marie Andrews, better known as Patty Andrews, was born on February 16, 1918, in Minneapolis, Minnesota. She was the youngest of three sisters, following LaVerne (born in 1911) and Maxene (born in 1916). The girls' father, Peter, had emigrated from Greece and their mother, Olga, had been born in Norway.
Patty and her sisters all showed early musical talent and began performing together as children. As teenagers the three girls were inspired by the Boswell Sisters, a group from New Orleans; they began calling themselves the Andrews Sisters and singing in harmony. They started making appearances at school dances and local talent competitions. Patty, a soprano, was the lead singer of the trio.
The Andrews Sisters
The Andrews Sisters joined bandleader Larry Rich's troupe in 1932 and toured the national vaudeville circuit, singing boogie-woogie and swing tunes in their signature style of close harmony and bold, brassy tonality.
Patti and her sisters received their big break when a recording executive heard them on a radio broadcast and offered them a contract with Decca Records. Their first single, "Why Talk About Love," was released in 1937. Their second single, released later that year, was "Bei Mir Bist Du Schoen (Means That You're Grand)." It was the first million-seller by a female group and it made the Andrews Sisters famous.
In the late 1930s and early 1940s, the Andrews Sisters recorded hit after hit, including "Hold Tight, Hold Tight," "The Beer Barrel Polka," "I'll Be with You in Apple Blossom Time" and "Boogie Woogie Bugle Boy." They performed live and on radio broadcasts, sometimes working with other musical stars such as singer Bing Crosby and orchestra leader Glenn Miller. Under contract with Universal Pictures, they appeared in several movies with the comedians Abbott and Costello.
The War Years
Patti, Maxene and LaVerne became known as "America's Wartime Sweethearts" after the United States entered World War II in December 1941. Their upbeat style appealed to audiences at home and on the front, and optimistic tunes like "Don't Sit Under the Apple Tree," "Rum and Coca Cola" and "Ac-Cent-Tchu-Ate the Positive" became some of their best-loved recordings.
The Andrews Sisters performed for the troops at home and abroad with the USO (United Service Organizations) through the war years. They also starred in musical-comedy films such as Private Buckaroo and Swingtime Johnny during this time.
In 1949 Patty began moving toward a solo career, recording "I Can Dream, Can't I?" and "I Wanna Be Loved" with her sisters singing backup. By 1954 Patty had left Decca Records in order to perform as a solo vocalist. However, the trio re-formed in 1956 and continued to perform until LaVerne died of cancer in 1967.
Interest in the Andrews Sisters was revived in 1973 when Bette Midler recorded her own version of "Boogie Woogie Bugle Boy." Some early Andrews Sisters recordings were re-released, and Maxene and Patty co-starred in the Broadway musical Over Here! in 1974-75. After Maxene's death in 1995, Patty continued to perform as a solo vocalist.
Personal Life and Death
Patty Andrews was married to film producer Martin Melcher from 1947 to 1950. She then wed show-business manager Walter Weschler in 1951, and they remained together until Weschler's death in 2010.
Patty Andrews died of natural causes at her home in Northridge, Los Angeles, California, on January 30, 2013. She was 94 years old.
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