Phyllis McGuire, who rose to star in popular music as a member of the McGuire Sisters, has died.
McGuire, a Las Vegas resident since 1960, died early Tuesday morning at her Las Vegas home, a representative from Palm Eastern Mortuary has confirmed. McGuire lived in a lavish residence in the exclusive, gated neighborhood of Rancho Circle.
McGuire, 89, was the last surviving member of the McGuire Sisters. Her sister Christine died in 2018, while sister Dorothy “Dottie” McGuire died in 2012.
The sisters were born in Middletown, Ohio. McGuire’s father, Asa, was a steel worker and her mother, Lillie Fultz, was an ordained minister. In a Washington Post obituary for Christine McGuire, it was found that, with her mother’s encouragement, the sisters sang in church even though she forbade them from listening to secular music.
In the late 1940s, armed with a few pieces of pop music, the sisters began performing in hospitals and social services, the Post said, and their three-part harmonies drew their attention to radio DJs and band leaders in Cincinnati and Dayton, Ohio.
In 1952, the sisters traveled to New York and landed a two-month appearance on singer Kate Smith’s national radio show, the Post said. They later became regulars on Arthur Godfrey’s radio and television shows.
Their first top 10 hit “Goodnight, Sweetheart, Goodnight” came in 1953, followed by “Muskrat Ramble” in 1954. “Sincerely” hit # 1 in 1954 and “Something’s Gotta Give” hit # 5
“Sugartime”, the song most closely associated with the trio, came out at number 1 in 1958.
In addition to numerous stage and television appearances, the McGuire Sisters once played a command performance for the Queen of England and appeared for five Presidents of the United States. They withdrew from the performance in 1968.
According to the Post, by the time the trio stepped down, Phyllis McGuire was involved in a relationship with Chicago gangster Sam Giancana, whom she reportedly met in 1960. The story was dramatized in “Sugartime,” a 1995 HBO film that cast Mary – Louise Parker as McGuire. (McGuire told the New York Daily News in 1997 that only about half of the film is true.)
For a time, McGuire was also in a relationship with Bob Stupak, chairman of Stratosphere Corp., who built the Stratosphere Tower on the grounds of his Vegas World casino. Stupak said McGuire stayed by his bed for several weeks after being seriously injured and comatose after a motorcycle accident.
In 1986 the McGuire Sisters returned to the stage in Las Vegas. They performed together until 2004, announced the post.
McGuire was a longtime resident of her estate in Las Vegas’ upscale Rancho Circle neighborhood, home to dozens of vintage dresses from her time with the McGuire Sisters, down the classic Vegas Hideaway Lounge and a country club-style tennis court at the back.
Although she had retired from performing for a long time, she became involved in charitable causes across southern Nevada.
In 2005 she was inducted into the UNLV’s Nevada Entertainer / Artist Hall of Fame. In 2019, on the occasion of McGuire’s 88th birthday, former Review Journal columnist Norm Clarke recalled the last time he saw McGuire in Las Vegas on his Vegas Diary blog.
“In a city lit by its famous neon, Phyllis stood out for its signature Harry Winston diamonds and haute couture,” wrote Clarke.
“Always elegantly that night, she made it clear that her days were fading on the red carpet. “The day I need a cane or crutches is the day no one will see me at these events,” she said.
John Katsilometes and Glenn Puit contributed to this report. Contact John Przybys at [email protected] Follow @JJPrzybys on Twitter. John Katsilometes’ column runs daily in the A section. His “PodKats!” You can find the podcast at reviewjournal.com/podcasts. Contact him at [email protected] Follow @johnnykats on Twitter, @ JohnnyKats1 on Instagram. Contact Glenn Puit at [email protected] or 702-383-0390. Follow @GlennatRJ on Twitter.