A few days ago we ran a blog about the death of Patty Andrews. Since then Joe has been reminiscing a bit with Frank about a few facts he was privy to, and Frank decided we should share them with our readers.
Hello again. It’s Morella and Segers, your classic movie guys, back again. And although the Andrews Sisters aren’t really linked to classic movies, we just loved them, and think it’s possible that a talent such as theirs may never be seen again.
Joe had the opportunity a few years back to read Maxene Andrews autobiography. As far as we know it has never been published, but it should be. It really gave insight into a bygone era.
Harmonies such as those produced by Patty, Maxene and LaVerne could only come from people who had known each other intimately and practiced non stop (think of other sister acts, The Boswells, The MacGuires, The Lennons, The Kings— Brother acts, The Mills Brothers, The Everlys — or the duo of Simon and Garfunkle, who grew up almost as brothers).
Today the music business relies on technology to produce that sound.
But besides the distinctive harmonies they produced — oldest sister LaVerne sang contralto, middle sister Maxene was the soproano and youngest sibling Patty the mezzo-soprano — The Andrews Sisters had qualities none of those other acts had.
That is, the ability to move gracefully in unison, dance and display an arch comedic touch. It was almost as if they could parody themselves. This is evident in their films. Go on You Tube and see most of their musical numbers from their films.
Yes, like alot of siblings, they argued. They had very controlling parents and La Verne often sided with Mom and Pop against Maxine and Patty. Then they began arguing about money. This came about because early on they’d signed with a manager, Lou Levy, and agreed to spilt their earning equally, each taking 25%. Later on Maxine and Lou married, which means they were getting 50% and LaVerne and Patty only 25% each. They, naturally felt it should be one third each. The Levys disagreed.
Even after the group split, then reunited, they held grudges about money. And long after LaVerne’s death, when Maxine and Patty were on Broadway in the hit show Over Here, disagreements about money affected their career. The show was set to tour but the sisters argued about salaries, Maxine’s husband sued the producers and the deal flopped.
Joe saw that show, both the prototype L.A. production which starred only Patty, and the full blown Broadway production which starred Patty and Maxine. The show was a piece of fluff and would have bombed except for the Sisters’ drawing power and the fact that every night after the play they would perform a complete concert of their hits.
Somehow they managed to change the harmony so they sounded exactly as they had when La Verne was with them.
One other interesting tale about Patty Andrews. She had a fierce temper. Her first husband was Marty Melcher, who was their agent and road manager. By 1949 Marty saw that Patty’s career was waning, and he turned his interest to an up and coming star by the name of Doris Day.
One night Doris’ neighbors were treated to the sight and sound of Patty Andrews as she battered Doris’ front door with a baseball bat while shouting epithets about Day stealing her husband.
Patty was probably lucky to lose Marty (he and Doris eventually married) before he squandered her fortune as he later did with Day’s.