Patty Andrews, the youngest and last surviving member of the Andrews Sisters vocal trio whose music was a defining sound of the homefront during World War II, died Thursday at her home in Northridge, Calif. She was 94.
Andrews was lead singer in the sister act, which included the eldest LaVerne and second-born Maxene. Their recordings — including “Boogie Woogie Bugle Boy,””Don’t Sit Under the Apple Tree (With Anyone Else But Me)” and ”Rum and Coca Cola” — helped propel them to the top of the pop charts in the 1940s.
Their songs varied from sentimental ballads to rollicking, jitterbuggable jazz, and they also developed a slapstick stage persona that emanated from their early days in vaudeville. A handful of film roles in the early 1940s also captured their multifaceted appeal.
Promoted as the “Sweethearts of the Armed Forces Radio Service,” they also toured extensively to raise money for war bonds and appeared in combat zones to raise morale.
The Andrews Sisters played with the most popular big bands of the 1940s, including those of Benny Goodman, Glenn Miller and Jimmy Dorsey. They were credited with selling tens of millions of records, and they influenced countless other harmony groups.
Many of their songs were covered by entertainers as varied as Bette Midler, Christina Aguilera and the Manhattan Transfer, and their clothing style was widely imitated as well by groups seeking to evoke the spirit of 1940s pop music. The Andrews Sisters were among the initial inductees into the Vocal Group Hall of Fame in 1998.