Sisters Maxene, Patty and La Verne, catapulted to the top of the pop charts in the late 1930s.
The children of Greek immigrant parents, all three girls dropped out of junior high school to help support the family in the roadhouses and vaudeville stages of the Depression-era Midwest. By the mid-1930s, the three girls made their way to New York — so poor that they stretched a single chicken for a week's worth of meals.
But an executive at Decca Records liked their close harmony and swinging delivery, and signed them to a modest contract: four singles at $50 each. The first was a bust. The second, which featured a tune called "Nice Work If You Can Get It," was released with a Yiddish song rewritten into English by Sammy Cahn and Saul Chaplin.
That was "Bei Mir Bist Du Schoen," which vaulted the three Gentile girls from Minnesota to fame and fortune. With Patty singing lead, Maxene soprano and La Verne alto, the Andrews Sisters recorded some of the most popular—and a few of the campiest—songs of the swing era, including "Roll Out the Barrel," "Don't Sit Under the Apple Tree," "Straighten Up and Fly Right" and "I'll Be With You in Apple Blossom Time."
By the end of the decade, they became one of the country's most popular female recording groups, collected 19 gold records, scores of Top 10 hits and dozens of movie credits during World War II, when the Andrews Sisters were the singing sweethearts of American GIs at war bond rallies, battlefield hospitals and USO performances.