LAS VEGAS (CelebrityAccess) — Phyllis McGuire, the last surviving member of the 1950s vocal harmony group The McGuire Sisters, died in Las Vegas on December 29th. She was 89.
According to the Las Vegas Sun, McGuire died at her home – a 26,000-square-foot mansion called “the Beverly Hills of Las Vegas” – where she has resided for decades since retiring from the music industry.
Phyllis, who was the youngest of the three McGuire sisters, was just four when the group started performing at local churches, funerals and other events.
By 1949, the group was performing at military bases and veterans’ hospitals and had expanded their repertoire to include secular material.
In 1952, the McGuires signed with Coral Records but didn’t achieve their first hit until the following year with the release of “Pine Tree, Pine over Me,” which spent a week at #27 on the Cash Box magazine Best-Selling Records chart.
Over the next several years, they followed their initial success with a string of hits, including the #1 recordings, “Sugartime” and “Sincerely” as well as top ten hits such as “Goodnight, Sweetheart, Goodnight,” “He,” and “Something’s Gotta Give.”
Along with recordings and live performances, the group also maintained a regular presence on television, appearing on shows such as Arthur Godfrey’s Talent Scouts, as well as variety programming such as the Ed Sullivan Show, and the Red Skelton show.
Phyllis gained noteriety for her personal relationships with influential figures, including reputed Chicago mob boss Sam “Momo” Giancana, as well as U.S. President John F. Kennedy, and his brother, Attorney General Robert Kennedy.
“The initial relationship was with John. And there definitely was a relationship with Bob. … They were seen together at their little hideaways. And, you know, that’s very like the Kennedys just to pass it down from one to the other – Joe Kennedy to John, Jack to Bobby, Bobby to Ted. That’s just the way they did things,” she told the Sun-Sentinel in a 1983 interview.
However, it was her relationship with Giancana that may have led to the band’s ultimate retirement in 1968 after they were reputedly blacklisted for their connection with the organized crime figure.
Following the band’s retirement, McGuire continued to perform as a solo artist for several years before retiring herself and opening a restaurant McGuire’s Pub in Florida.
The McGuire reunited several times, including in 1986, when they performing at Toronto’s Royal York Hotel, followed by a series of shows in gambling meccas such as Las Vegas and Atlantic City.
Phyllis was preceded in death by her sisters Dorothy, who died in Arizona in 2012 and Christine, who died in Las Vegas in 2018.