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Continued: April 2012: Always a sister act

  • Article by: GRAYDON ROYCE , Star Tribune
  • Last update: January 30, 2013 - 6:12 PM

Gilleland suggested that Laverne might not have been the party type, comparing her to an older sibling of her own whom she described as the family glue.

As actors, each woman brings individual style to the stage, but they agree that the Andrews Sisters had such a distinct sound that their portrayal requires a lot of mimicry.

"That's what people have in their ears," Long said.

Baldwin-Fletcher agreed.

"Their style had so many subtleties that you never notice," she said. "It seems so simple, but picking it apart is hard."

"The bottom line," Paden said, "is that it's so much fun to sing. You can't get it out of your head. It's the closest I'll come to feeling like a rock star."

Say what?

It's a rush, Peden explained, to know you're a vessel bearing the popular music that defined and captivated a generation.

No big deal at home

For all their success in a career that in one form or another spanned more than 40 years, the Andrews Sisters were frustrated by small crowds in their hometown. Minneapolis Star columnist Cedric Adams puzzled over this in 1951:

"I remember a few years back when they came to the Orpheum theater,"he wrote. "Every stop was pulled out. ... Radio stations bent over backwards to plug them; they worked benefit shows 'til they dropped in their tracks. What happened? Nothing. The box office at the theater was strictly on the duddy side. ... The Bible quotation is, `A prophet is not without honor save in his own country.' "

The sisters admitted that this curious ennui hurt their feelings, but it couldn't dim their fondness for their hometown. The newspaper library is full of clips throughout the '40s and '50s, noting a visit by the famous Andrews girls, during which they invariably drove out to Mound to visit with their uncles at the little store near the shore of Lake Minnetonka. Maxene in particular seemed drawn, buying 13 acres on the west edge of Mound in 1951.

Twenty-five years later, Maxene had written her autobiography and planned a publicity tour.

"I wouldn't miss Minneapolis," she told Minneapolis Star columnist Barbara Flanagan. "Or Mound. I spent some of the happiest summers of my life in Mound, where our two uncles ran the grocery store."

I remember that store.

  • related content

  • In this 2012 file photo, the "Sisters of Swing" at the Great American History Theater are, from left, Maxene Andrews, played by Jennifer Baldwin Peden, Patty, played by Christina Baldwin Fletcher, and LaVerne, played by Norah Long.

  • FILE - This 1942 file photo shows singer Patty Andrews, the last survivor of the three singing Andrews sisters, who has died in Los Angeles at age 94. Andrews died Wednesday, Jan. 30, 2013, at her home in suburban Northridge of natural causes, said family spokesman Alan Eichler. (AP Photo, File)

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