I have a brother and a sister. It’s nice to have one of each. Sisters, though, have a song devoted to their special relationship. A song that takes me back to childhood Christmases spent in Florida with my cousins, where we always watched the classic 1954 movie White Christmas. It features songs by Irving Berlin, and the one that most delighted my cousin Kim and me was the campy, over-the-top production of “Sisters,” sung by Rosemary Clooney and Vera-Ellen (but it’s actually Clooney’s voice heard in both parts):
There were never such devoted sisters,
Never had to have a chaperone, no sir,
I’m there to keep my eye on her
Every little thing that we are wearing
When a certain gentleman arrived from Rome
She wore the dress, and I stayed home…
Most of the famous singing sister acts of yesteryear were trios, not duos. One of the earliest was the Boswell sisters—Martha, Connee, and Helvetia or “Vet”—whose precise vocal arrangements and jazzy style made them popular in the 1920s and 30s:
The Stafford Sisters could also be heard on radio and in films during the 1930s. Jo Stafford had a successful solo career, but at times sang with her older sisters Christine and Pauline.
The Andrews Sisters (LaVerne, Maxene, and Patty) provided a steady stream of boogie-woogie and swing tune hits throughout the 1940s. The 1950s brought the McGuire sisters (Christine, Dorothy, and Phyllis), and the lesser known Dinning Sisters trio.
The U.S. did not have a corner on female vocal trios during this era. One of my listeners, a dedicated Italophile named Tony, told me about Trio Lescano, made up of three Dutch sisters who Italianized their names and were popular in Italy in the 1930s and 40s.
Two larger close-harmony female groups achieved fame as well: the Lennon Sisters, four siblings (two others in the family did not sing) who often appeared on The Lawrence Welk Show, and the six King sisters, who had their own TV program in the 1960s.
For me, though, the sister act with the most sentimental value is a duo that only existed in the movies, and was really only one voice!
So this one’s for the Bochnig and the Kimball “kids.” Happy Christmas memories.
Copyright © 2014 by Paulette Bochnig Sharkey
All rights reserved.