King Sister, Yvonne, Dies at 89

Thursday, December 17, 2009

Yvonne "Vonnie" King Burch, one of the King Sisters famous in the big band era, died Sunday at age 89.

Burch was taken to Santa Barbara Hospital last weekend for injuries she suffered in a fall, Tina Cole, her daughter, said.

The Associated Press reports that Burch spent three decades singing and recording with the King Sisters, who made it big in the 1930s and 1940s with jazzy, four-part harmonies on a series of hits, including "Mairzy Doats," "Miss Otis Regrets" and "The Hut-Sut Song." The group performed and toured with big bands led by Horace Heidt and Artie Shaw before starting their own orchestra with Luise King's husband, Alvino Rey. A Grammy nomination for their Capitol Records album Imagination capped the group's career in 1959.

Vonnie King Burch was the matriarch of the King Family, which included her sisters and three dozen relatives. In 1963, the King Family appeared on The Hollywood Palace before headlining their own TV special. Strong fan response led to two variety series and 17 specials during the 1960s and 1970s. The family appeared on The Ed Sullivan Show and performed with entertainment legends, including Bing Crosby and Dean Martin.

Burch was married for 39 years to William Burch, a longtime radio and TV producer who died in 2005. She had two children with her first husband, musician Buddy Cole, who died in 1964.

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