Monday, January 3, 2022


On this day of January 3rd, Maxene Andrews of the Andrews Sisters fame was born in 1916. Andrews was the second daughter of Peter Andrews and Olga Sollie, café owners in Minneapolis. She was four and a half years younger than her sister La Verne Sophie and two years older than her sister Patricia Marie. The sisters began singing together at talent contests, and after winning a contest at the Orpheum Theater in Minneapolis in April 1931, they were hired by the bandleader Larry Rich. They toured with Rich from the summer of 1931 to the summer of 1932, after which they sang with big bands. While working with Leon Belasco’s Orchestra, they made their first recordings in March 1937, but when Belasco disbanded his group, the sisters were stranded in New York City. They planned to give up show business and return to Minnesota, but a one-night job singing over the radio earned them a contract with Decca Records. Their first Decca single flopped, but their second, a novelty recording of an English-language version of the Yiddish show tune “Bei Mir Bist du Schoen,” became a surprise hit, topping the charts in January 1938. The sisters would remain one of the most popular recording stars of the 1940s, and were a favorite of soldiers that they entertained during World War II with the USO.

In March 1941 Maxene married Lou Levy, the group’s personal manager. She and Levy adopted two children and divorced in 1951. After Laverne died in 1967 and the group finally broke up Maxene stayed in music, launching a solo career. In 1985 she released her debut solo album, Maxene: An Andrews Sister. With Bill Gilbert she wrote a memoir, Over Here, Over There: The Andrews Sisters and the USO Stars in World War II, which was published in 1993. She returned to musical theater with the off-Broadway musical Swingtime Canteen, which opened on 14 March 1995, but while on vacation from the show she died of a heart attack. She is buried in Forest Lawn Cemetery in Glendale, California.

Maxene Andrews’s accomplishments are inevitably combined with those of her sisters. Employing a distinctive vocal harmony style that drew upon the exuberant, dance-oriented arrangements of swing music, and with a frisky sense of humor, the Andrews Sisters helped popularize a variety of musical genres within popular music, including many ethnic forms as well as boogie-woogie. As entertainers, they defined the exuberant 1940s style that maintained morale and helped win World War II. Though she never achieved widespread popularity apart from the group, Maxene, the most articulate and personable of the sisters, successfully forged a career as a singer, musical-comedy performer, and author long after the group’s heyday....

1 comment:

  1. Patty and Maxene reunited in 1974 to star in the Broadway musical "Over Here," which also featured John Travolta, Marilu Henner, Ann Reinking, and Treat Williams.