But a strange twist brought the two surviving sisters back to public attention, and a new generation of fans: the 1973 release of Bette Midler's version of "Boogie Woogie Bugle Boy." The following year, the Andrews Sisters, minus one, were again the rage, starring in a hit musical, "Over Here," which ran for a year at Broadway's Shubert Theater.
It was to be the last joint performance for the two sisters, who had a falling-out that industry insiders say had to do with a conflict between Maxene and Patty's husband, Walter Weschler, the group's conductor and arranger.
According to published reports, the sisters, despite being longtime neighbors in Encino, had only seen each other twice since 1974--once at Maxene's bedside after her 1982 heart attack, and again at the 1987 dedication of their star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame. In 1989, Maxene Andrews moved from Encino to Auburn, Calif., near Sacramento.
Past 60 years of age, Maxene Andrews embarked on a solo career. She was sidelined by a heart attack at 66, but was back on stage a few months later, rehearsing strapped to a heart monitor. She showed an indomitable will, performing five weeks after heart bypass surgery.
In 1990, Andrews released her only solo album, called "Maxene: An Andrews Sister." A year later, her music was brought to life on the stage of the Kennedy Center in Washington, in a ballet choreographed by Paul Taylor and set to nine Andrews Sisters songs. "Now our music will go on forever," Wells said her mother exclaimed at the time.
In addition to her daughter and her sister, Andrews is survived by three other children, Aleda Hunt and Peter Todd, both of Salt Lake City, and Steve Sharp of Los Angeles, and her former husband, Lou Levy of New York City.
In a telephone interview Sunday, Weschler, Patty's husband of 44 years, said his wife was "too emotional to speak." Of the sisters' estrangement, he would only say, "We wished it could have been otherwise, but it's one of those sad things."
Plans for memorial services in both New York and Los Angeles are pending.
Times staff writer Efrain Hernandez Jr. contributed to this story.