McGuire Sisters

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The McGuire Sisters
McGuire Sisters.png
The McGuire Sisters in 1964
Background information
Origin Middletown, Ohio, United States
Genres Traditional pop
Years active 1952–1968
Past members Christine McGuire
Dorothy McGuire
Phyllis McGuire

The McGuire Sisters were a singing trio in American popular music. The group was composed of three sisters: Christine McGuire (born July 30, 1926); Dorothy McGuire (February 13, 1928 – September 7, 2012); and Phyllis McGuire (born February 14, 1931). Among their most popular songs are "Sincerely" and "Sugartime", both number one hits.[1]

Early life[edit]

The McGuire sisters were born in Middletown, Ohio[2] and grew up in Miamisburg. Their mother, Lillie, was a minister of the Miamisburg First Church of God (Anderson, Indiana), where, as young girls, they sang in the church at weddings, funerals and church revivals. When they started singing in 1935, the youngest sister, Phyllis, was four years old. Eventually, they sang at occasions outside church and, by 1949, were singing at military bases and veterans' hospitals. They incorporated a more diverse repertoire for those events.

Career in show business[edit]

They signed with Coral Records in 1952. That same year they appeared on Arthur Godfrey's Talent Scouts, and Godfrey hired them for his other shows, where they remained for seven years. Cosmopolitan's November 1953 issue called them "Godfrey's Merry McGuires." The sisters often were compared to The Andrews Sisters. Maxene Andrews once said during an interview with Joe Franklin on WOR (AM) Radio in 1979, "The McGuire Sisters were fine once they stopped imitating The Andrews Sisters."

In early McGuire recordings Phyllis' voice almost can be mistaken for that of Patty Andrews'. The McGuires and Andrewses met several times throughout their careers. Phyllis credited Patty, Maxene, and LaVerne during a television interview with Maxene in the 1990s, hosted by Sally Jessy Raphael, saying that she and her sisters met the Andrews Sisters in New York in the early 1950s and received important advice. Much like The Andrews Sisters, the McGuires moved when they sang, often executing dance routines during lavish production numbers on countless television specials (something The Andrews Sisters had originated in films during the 1940s, really becoming the first female vocal group to move when they sang, rather than just standing at a microphone). Phyllis and her sisters mimicked the singing style of The Andrews Sisters, as well as The Mills Brothers and The Dinning Sisters. From very young ages when they would perform short shows for family and friends in their parents' living room. While Phyllis is fond of saying in interviews that she and her sisters did not know any popular songs when they became famous (only the church hymns taught them by their minister mother), the trio often imitated other singing groups long before their success.[3]

They performed for five Presidents of the United States (Richard Nixon, Gerald Ford, Jimmy Carter, Ronald Reagan and George H. W. Bush) and for Queen Elizabeth II. In 1958, their mother appeared as a guest challenger on the television game show To Tell the Truth. The sisters maintained a busy television schedule, making frequent appearances on popular variety hours hosted by Ed Sullivan, Dean Martin, Danny Kaye, Milton Berle, Andy Williams, Perry Como and Red Skelton. The trio was dressed and coiffed identically and performed their synchronized body movements and hand gestures with military precision. Their recordings of "Sincerely," "Picnic," and 1958's "Sugartime" all sold more than one million copies.[2]

End to the group's public appearances[edit]

They retired from public appearances in 1968, giving their last performance that year on The Ed Sullivan Show. Phyllis McGuire continued to perform solo for a time. The demise of the group is often attributed to Phyllis' long-standing personal relationship with mobster, Sam Giancana (although she has always claimed that their friendship was strictly platonic), which reportedly blacklisted the group. During one of his 1960s court appearances for which Phyllis was subpoenaed, Giancana told reporters outside the courthouse that "Phyllis knows everything" about the rumored, unethical behaviors of John F. Kennedy and his brother, Robert. Phyllis has resided in a famously showcased mansion in Las Vegas for decades, boasting its own beauty parlor, a swan moat, and a replica of the Eiffel Tower which actually rose through the home's roof. When asked by Barbara Walters during a 1980s ABC-TV "20/20" interview from within the mansion if any of the money to build the lavish home came from Giancana, Phyllis denied the innuendo, claiming that she invested heavily in oil when the sisters were at the height of their popularity.[3]

The sisters reunited in 1986, performing at Toronto's Royal York Hotel for the first time since their retirement.[4] Numerous nightclub engagements followed in Las Vegas, Atlantic City, and New York City's Rainbow & Stars, showcasing the group and Phyllis' impersonations of Peggy Lee, Judy Garland, Pearl Bailey, Ethel Merman and even Louis Armstrong. Singing their greatest hits as part of their act, they were also featured performing specialty numbers like the frantic "I Love a Violin," the a cappella "Danny Boy," and a segment during which Phyllis retired backstage as Christine and Dorothy shared the spotlight playing a concert arrangement of "The Way We Were" on twin pianos. Other highlights in the act were a comical Trinidad-flavored tune, a soft rendering of "Memory" from Broadway's "Cats," and a "Money Medley," which they also performed live on the Jerry Lewis MDA Telethon in 1994. Since then, the sisters had made occasional public appearances together, including in 2004, when they reunited to perform in a PBS special Magic Moments: Best of '50s Pop.[5][6] It was plain to see on this 2004 program that at least Phyllis underwent some type of plastic surgery (most notably on her lips, which appeared much larger than ever before, even changing her speech), and the sisters' command of their vocal cords and harmonious blend had not significantly diminished.[3]

After their careers wound down, they opened a restaurant in Bradenton, Florida, calling it McGuire's Pub.[7]


They were inducted into the National Broadcasting Hall of Fame in 1994, and in 2001 they were inducted into the Vocal Group Hall of Fame. They also have been inducted into the Coca-Cola Hall of Fame and the Headliners' Hall of Fame.[8] They were inducted into the Hit Parade Hall of Fame in 2009.


Christine has two children, Herold and Asa; Dorothy has two, Rex and David. Phyllis has no children.


On September 7, 2012, Dorothy McGuire died at her son's home in Paradise Valley, Arizona, after suffering from Parkinson's disease and age-related dementia; she was 84. Dorothy's husband of 54 years, Lowell Williamson, died 6 months later on February 25, 2013 after sustaining a fractured back from a fall; he was 89.[9][10]


Year Single (A-side, B-side)
Both sides from same album except where indicated
Chart positions Album
1953 "Picking Sweethearts"
b/w "One, Two, Three, Four"
Non-album tracks
"Toodle-Ooh Siana"
b/w "Miss You"
"Where Good Times Are"
b/w "Hey, Mister Cotton Picker"
"Are You Looking For A Sweetheart"
b/w "You'll Never Know Till Monday"
1954 "Uno, Due, Tre (The Italian Square Dance)"
b/w "Lonesome Polecat" (from Musical Magic)
"Pine Tree, Pine Over Me" / 26 27
"Cling To Me" 49
"Goodnight, Sweetheart, Goodnight"
b/w "Heavenly Feeling" (Non-album track)
7 8 By Request
"Muskrat Ramble" (see below)
b/w "Not As A Stranger" (Non-album track)
"Muskrat Ramble" / 10 9
"Lonesome Polecat" 28 33 Musical Magic
"Christmas Alphabet"
b/w "Give Me Your Heart For Christmas"
25 34 Greetings From The McGuire Sisters
1955 "Sincerely" / 1 2 14 By Request
"No More" 17 20
"Open Up Your Heart (and Let The Sun Shine In)"
b/w "Melody Of Love"
"The Naughty Lady Of Shady Lane"
b/w "Hearts Of Stone" (Non-album track)
"It May Sound Silly" / 11 14 Chris, Phyllis, Dottie
"Doesn't Anybody Love Me?" flip Musical Magic
"Something's Gotta Give" / 5 4 Chris, Phyllis, Dottie
"Rhythm 'N Blues" flip 32 Teenage Party
"Kiss Me and Kill Me With Love"
b/w "If It's A Dream"
Non-album tracks
b/w "If You Believe"
10 4 Greetings From The McGuire Sisters
"Give Me Love" / 95 30 Non-album track
"Sweet Song Of India" 34 Chris, Phyllis, Dottie
"Be Good To Me" / 46 Teenage Party
"My Baby's Got Such Lovin' Ways" 40
"I'd Like To Trim A Tree With You"
b/w "The Littlest Angel"
Greetings From The McGuire Sisters
1956 "Missing"
b/w "Tell Me Now" (Non-album track)
44 36 Musical Magic
"Picnic" / 13 20 Chris, Phyllis, Dottie
"Delilah Jones" 37 36 24
"Weary Blues" / 32 42 Sugartime
"In The Alps" 63
"Ev'ry Day of My Life" / 37 33 Chris, Phyllis, Dottie
"Endless" 52 36
"Goodnight, My Love, Pleasant Dreams"
b/w "Mommy" (from Children's Holiday)
32 23 Musical Magic
1957 "Kid Stuff"
b/w "Without Him"
36 Musical Magic
"Blue Skies"
b/w "He's Got Time" (from Greetings From The McGuire Sisters)
Do You Remember When
"Please, Don't Do That To Me"
b/w"Drownin' In Memories"
Teenage Party
"Beginning To Miss You"
b/w "Rock Bottom"
"Around The World In 80 Days"
b/w "Interlude"
73 Sugartime
"Kiss Them For Me"
b/w "Forgive Me"
"Santa Claus Is Comin' To Town"
b/w "Honorable Congratulations"
Greetings From The McGuire Sisters
1958 "Sugartime"
b/w "Banana Split"
1 7 14 Sugartime
"Ding Dong"
b/w "Since You Went Away To School"
25 43
b/w "Do You Love Me Like You Kiss Me"
80 May You Always
"Sweetie Pie"
b/w "I'll Think Of You"
1959 "May You Always"
b/w "Achoo-Cha-Cha"
11 21 15
"Summer Dreams" / 55 64 Sugartime
"Peace" 85 97 May You Always
"Red River Valley"
b/w "Compromise" (Non-album track)
"Some Of These Days"
b/w "Have A Nice Weekend" (Non-album track)
1960 "Livin' Dangerously"
b/w "Lovers Lullaby"
97 Non-album tracks
"The Unforgiven"
b/w "I Give Thanks" (Non-album track)
"The Last Dance"
b/w "Nine O'Clock" (Non-album track)
"To Be Loved"
b/w "I Don't Know Why (I Just Do)"
1961 "Just For Old Time's Sake"
b/w "Really Neat" (Non-album track)
20 17 Just For Old Time's Sake
"Tears On My Pillow"
b/w "Will There Be Space In A Space Ship" (Non-album track)
59 55 12 Showcase
"Just Because" / 99 96
"I Do, I Do, I Do" tag
"I'm Just Taking My Time"
b/w "I Can Dream, Can't I" (Non-album track)
Subways Are For Sleeping
1962 "Sugartime Twist"
b/w "More Hearts Are Broken That Way"
107 130 Showcase
"Mama's Gone, Goodbye"
b/w "I Really Don't Want To Know"
Songs Everybody Knows
1963 "Summertime (Is The Time For Love)"
b/w "Cordially Invited"
Non-album tracks
1964 "Now and Forever"
b/w "Never"
"Candy Heart"
b/w "Dear Heart"
"Ticket To Anywhere"
b/w "I'll Walk Alone"
1966 "Truer Than You Were"
b/w "Grazia"
30 Right Now!

Phyllis McGuire solo singles[edit]

Year Single (A-side, B-side) Chart positions Album
1964 "I Don't Want To Walk Without You"
b/w "That's Life"
79 85 13 Non-album tracks
"Just A Little Lovin'"
b/w "You Don't Have The Heart To Tell Me"
1965 "Run To My Arms"
b/w "Someone Else Is Taking My Place"
1966 "My Happiness"
b/w "Vaya Con Dios"
Phyllis McGuire Sings

In popular culture[edit]

The McGuire Sisters, and most especially Phyllis McGuire, who lives in Las Vegas, were the subjects of the 1995 HBO movie Sugartime, which depicted a romantic relationship between Phyllis and mobster Sam Giancana. Giancana was played by actor John Turturro, and Phyllis was played by actress Mary-Louise Parker.


  1. ^ The McGuire Sisters official Web site
  2. ^ a b Murrells, Joseph (1978). The Book of Golden Discs (2nd ed.). London: Barrie and Jenkins Ltd. p. 75. ISBN 0-214-20512-6. 
  3. ^ a b c Sforza, John: "Swing It! The Andrews Sisters Story;" University Press of Kentucky, 2000; 289 pages.
  4. ^ [PEOPLE magazine, "The Mcguire Sisters, Those Sugartime Princesses of Pop, Have Reunited After a 17-Year Split," March 3, 1986]
  5. ^ "Magic Moments: Best of '50s Pop" PBS special
  6. ^ Musician Guide, "The McGuire Sisters Biography"
  7. ^ "The McGuire Sisters". Retrieved 9 September 2012. 
  8. ^ article, "50th anniversary party reunites legendary trio," by Kathy Shayna Shocket, 12/10/2008
  9. ^ Christe, Bob. "Dorothy McGuire of McGuire Sisters dies at 84". Associated Press. Retrieved 9 September 2012. 
  10. ^ 11 Sep 2012 (2012-09-11). "Dorothy McGuire". Telegraph. Retrieved 2012-10-21. 
  11. ^ Roberts, David (2006). British Hit Singles & Albums (19th ed.). London: Guinness World Records Limited. p. 339. ISBN 1-904994-10-5. 

External links[edit]