Feb. 19, 1928 - Sept. 7, 2012
PHOENIX - Dorothy McGuire Williamson, who teamed with sisters Christine and Phyllis for a string of hits in the '50s and '60s as the popular McGuire Sisters singing group, has died. She was 84.
Mrs. Williamson died Friday at her son's home in the Phoenix suburb of Paradise Valley, daughter-in-law Karen Williamson said. She had Parkinson's disease and age-related dementia.
The McGuire Sisters earned six gold records for hits including 1954's "Sincerely" and 1957's "Sugartime." The sisters were known for their sweet harmonies and identical outfits and hairdos.
They began singing together as children at their mother's Ohio church and then performed at weddings and church revivals.
They got their big break in 1952 on "Arthur Godfrey's Talent Scouts" show, where they continued to perform for seven years.
The group made numerous appearances on television and toured into the late 1960s, making a last performance together on "The Ed Sullivan Show" in 1968.
Dorothy stepped back to raise her two sons, Karen Williamson said. Christine also raised a family, while Phyllis pursued a solo career, according to a 1986 profile in People magazine after the trio reunited and began doing nightclub and Las Vegas performances again.
The sister last performed together in the mid-2000s and are featured on a 2004 PBS show called "Magic Moments - Best of '50s Pop."
"They were a talent at a time when you had to have talent - it couldn't be done as it is now," said Karen Williamson, who is married to McGuire's son, Rex. "Truly, their harmonies were some of the best and God-given and they always knew that and never took that for granted."
The group performed for five presidents and Queen Elizabeth II of Great Britain.
They were inducted into the National Broadcasting Hall of Fame in 1994 and the Vocal Group Hall of Fame in 2001.
Christine and Phyllis, 86 and 81 respectively, live in Las Vegas.
"They were just hard-working professionals and they took every aspect of the career very, very seriously," Karen Williamson said of the sisters. "And when they put on a show, you were going to get a great, great show."
Mrs. Williamson was married for 53 years to Lowell Williamson, a wealthy oilman. The couple had two sons, Rex and David.
A memorial service will be Saturday in Valley Presbyterian Church, Paradise Valley.