Dorothy McGuire of singing trio the McGuire Sisters dies at 84

The McGuire Sisters, Christine, Phyllis and Dorothy, in 1986.
(Associated Press)

Dorothy McGuire, the middle of three singing siblings who performed together as the McGuire Sisters, died Friday in Paradise Valley, Ariz. She was 84.

The McGuire Sisters had more than 30 hits on the Billboard pop charts beginning in the mid-1950s. The group was best-known for its harmonizing on hit ballads such as “Picnic” and “Something’s Gotta Give,” both of which are embedded below.

Dorothy, who sang with her sisters, Christine and Phyllis, had Parkinson’s disease and dementia, her daughter-in-law, Karen Williamson, told the Associated Press. From Middletown, Ohio, the McGuires were harmonizing at church performances at a young age and were discovered by an agent who heard them sing at a revival meeting in Dayton.

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The family went to New York after Phyllis graduated in 1952 and, sporting matching pink sweaters (they were often mistaken for triplets), the group performed “Mona Lisa” at an Arthur Godfrey Talent Scouts audition. They won the competition after singing “You Belong to Me,” a song made famous by Jo Stafford.

Success came quickly. The McGuires’ “Sincerely” spent more than two months at No. 1 on the charts in 1955. Songs such as “Sugartime” and “Something’s Gotta Give” also reached the top 10. In 1958, Dorothy told The Times that she had aspirations of becoming a nurse if her musical career had not been a success.

A 1959 McGuire Sisters concert at the Desert Inn in Las Vegas received a rave review in The Times. “The beautifully costumed girls came up with sparkling arrangements, touches of comedy and other intriguing bits of stage business that kept a capacity audience applauding heartily,” wrote The Times, which singled out the trio’s take on “One Fine Day” from “Madame Butterfly” as the show highlight.

In 1968 the trio disbanded after a performance on “The Ed Sullivan Show.” Phyllis continued to perform solo while Chrstine tried her hand at numerous business ventures, franchising cinemas, restaurants and diet centers. Dorothy, who in 1958 married Arizona real estate developer Lowell Williamson, opted for a more domestic route.

In a mid-80s interview with The Times, Dorothy said she “just became a mother” after her performance career with her sisters ended. The McGuire sisters staged a comeback after a 17-year showbiz absence in 1986, a return the trio said they paid $750,000 for.

Christine, 86, and Phyllis, 81, live in Las Vegas, according to the Associated Press.


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