The Peters Sisters


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During the Depression, one way for families with same-sex siblings to get out from under was to have talented sisters or brothers form singing acts. Case in point: The Peters Sisters. Anne, Virginia and Mattye Peters were from Los Angeles, which was perfect in the 1930s if you wanted to be discovered. In 1936, they appeared in the film With Love and Kisses, followed by Ali Baba Goes to Town (don't ask) and Love and Hisses in 1937. Rotund and delightfully upbeat, the sisters appeared at New York's Cotton Club singing with the Duke Ellington Orchestra and then in Hi-De-Ho (1947) with Cab Calloway. Along the way, they recorded 78s—mostly novelty numbers—and toured Europe in the 1950s, where they became a sensation in the years before American pop artists routinely appeared there. The Peters Sisters were in a few French and Italian films in the early 1950s, and they made a bunch of recordings, mostly feel-good whimsical numbers. Their gimmick was that they sang tight harmony and sounded a lot like the Andrews Sisters. Even Patti Andrews thought so.

Here are the Peters Sisters in With Love and Kisses (move the time bar to 9:50)...


Here's Mama Wants to Know Who Stole the Jam in 1957...


Here are the Peters Sisters and Elizabeth Taylor in a 1958 newsreel...


Here's the U.K.'s Lonnie Donegan and the Peters Sisters singing Ragtime Daddy Used to Play in 1960...


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This story appears courtesy of JazzWax by Marc Myers.
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