The King Sisters
|The King Sisters|
Seated from left: Yvonne, Alyce. Standing: Donna, Luise, Maxine, Marilyn, 1964.
|Associated acts||Buddy Cole, Charlie Barnet, Frank DeVol, Horace Heidt, Billy May and Artie Shaw|
|Website||officialkingfamily.com, The King Family official website|
|Past members||Alyce King
The King Sisters were an American big band-era vocal group consisting of six sisters: Alyce, Donna, Luise, Marilyn, Maxine, and Yvonne King.
Born and raised in Pleasant Grove, Utah, about 35 miles south of Salt Lake City, the King Sisters originally were part of the "Driggs Family of Entertainers". Their first professional job was with a Salt Lake City radio station, from which they graduated to a station in Oakland, California. In the early 1930s sisters Luise, Maxine and Alyce formed a vocal trio along the lines of their idols, the Boswell Sisters, and traveled to San Francisco to audition for radio station KGO (to replace the Boswell Sisters themselves, who were leaving the station)." After this, Maxine retired to home life in Oakland and sisters Donna and Yvonne were added to the roster.
In 1935, the King Sisters accepted a job with bandleader Horace Heidt. Gradually, relations between the King Sisters and Heidt deteriorated to the point where they left the band.[why?] In the following years, they separately and together sang with the bands of Artie Shaw's Old Gold program and Charlie Barnet and Al Pearce series. They turned down a request to be the vocal group for the Glenn Miller Orchestra. They recorded for Bluebird Records, a sub-label of RCA Victor Records and the same label as Miller, and also had their first hit with a vocal version of Miller's hit, "In The Mood".
In 1937, Luise married guitarist Alvino Rey. At the peak of the sisters' success, they appeared in a number of 1940's Hollywood films. During World War II, they appeared regularly on Kay Kyser's radio series. In 1965, they began hosting their own ABC television-network series, The King Family Show, which featured family members including Alyce's husband, actor Robert Clarke, and her sons, Ric and Lex de Azevedo, and Cam Clarke, as well as other talent. The show ran from 1965-1966, with a 1969 revival.
A second generation of the King Family, the Four King Cousins, continues to carry on the musical tradition. More prominently, Luise's grandsons Win and William Butler are also musicians, being part of the noted Montreal-based indie rock/baroque pop Arcade Fire.
Alyce King Clarke died on August 23, 1996, from respiratory problems, aged 81. Luise King Rey died on August 4, 1997, aged 83, from cancer, the year of her 60th wedding anniversary to Alvino Rey. Donna King Conkling died on June 16, 2007, aged 88, in Plano, Texas. Maxine King Thomas died on May 13, 2009, aged 97 in Corona, California. Yvonne "Vonnie" King Burch died on December 13, 2009, aged 89, after suffering a fall at her home in Santa Barbara, California. Marilyn King died on August 7, 2013, aged 82, from cancer, also in California; she was the last surviving sister.
- Billboard, April 11, 1942.
- Tim Brooks and Earle Marsh. The Complete Directory to Prime Time Network TV Shows: 1946-Present by (3rd. edition 1985), p 448; ISBN 0-345-31864-1
- Notice of death of Maxine King Thomas, legacy.com/obituaries
- "Marilyn King, the Last of the Singing King Sisters, Dies at 82". The Hollywood Reporter. August 8, 2013.