Lively, entertaining reviews of, and essays on, old and newer films and everything relating to them, written by professional author William Schoell.

Thursday, March 1, 2018


SWING IT! THE ANDREWS SISTER STORY. John Sforza. University Press of Kentucky; 2000.

Petty squabbles, sibling rivalry, bad marriages, lawsuits and counter suits against each other, and even suicide attempts -- this was all part of the Andrews Sisters' story. However, it is just part of the story. True, two of the sisters, Patti and Maxene, did not even speak or look at one another in the last few years of  their lives -- Maxene died some years before Patti did -- but author Sforza suitably spends more time detailing the careers (both together and as individuals) and personal triumphs of the singing group than their trials and tribulations -- but he leaves nothing out. The author looks at other girl groups and explains why the very versatile Andrews Sisters were at the top of the heap and the reasons for their longevity. The gals were of Greek descent, and one could not say they were raving beauties, but they generally looked much more attractive in real life than in their movies. LaVerne, the oldest, looked like a witch in Hold That Ghost, but still shots in this heavily-illustrated tome show her looking much prettier and with a more becoming hairstyle in later years. The sisters did several films with Abbott and Costello, then a series of mediocre films for Universal, who didn't seem to know just what to do with them, and then there was their work for the USO. When Patti and Maxene did their successful Broadway show, Over Here!, it highlighted the sisters' comedic abilities. Their hit songs included "Rum and Coco-Cola;" "Don't Sit Under the Apple Tree;" "Boogie Woogie Buigle Boy;" and many, many others. The group split up in the early fifties, then forgave each other and reunited, until there was another, longer split between Patti and Maxene (LaVerne had passed away by then) over Over Here! The Andrews Sisters remain the "best-selling female vocal group: of all time, and had more Top Ten Billboard hits than either the Beatles or Elvia Presley! In addition to many great photos, the book also has a lengthy, annotated discography as well as lists of their film, radio and TV appearances.

Verdict: This is an excellent biography and career study of three talented women who became symbols of WW2 but whose careers spanned many decades. ***1/2.


angelman66 said...

Need to read this one, Bill, i remember reading all about this feud in all the National Enquirers at my grandmother's house in the early 1970s.
After LaVerne died, before Patti and Maxene's final rift, didn't they replace her with another singer for an album or concert performance or tour? Or am I mixing them up with the Supremes? LOL.

William said...

Yes, they did hire another singer and she appeared with them for some concerts, and maybe on recordings. As for the Supremes, they covered a couple of A.S. numbers for a TV show.