Phyllis McGuire, the lead singer and last remaining member of the 1950s trio known as the McGuire Sisters, died in her Las Vegas home on Tuesday, according to The New York Times. She was 89.
McGuire’s death was confirmed to the Times by the Palm Eastern Mortuary, but no cause of death was announced.
“I don’t fear living, and I don’t fear dying,” McGuire told Vanity Fair in 1989. “You only live once, and I’m going to live it to the fullest, until away I go. And I’m going to continue singing as long as somebody wants me.”
The singer’s path to fame began when Coral Records signed her and her two sisters, Christine and Dorothy McGuire, to a record deal in 1952. That year, they also appeared on “Arthur Godfrey Talent Scouts,” winning the contest. Following their success on the show, the three vocalists were booked to perform on variety shows and traveled the country as their popularity skyrocketed.
The sisters’ pop cover of the 1954 song “Sincerely,” originally recorded by The Moonglows, went on to top Billboard’s U.S. songs chart for six weeks in 1955. It was the first of their songs to top the chart, followed in 1958 by the sisters’ rendition of “Sugartime.”
The two No. 1 singles sold over a million copies, as did their 1956 song “Picnic.” Their rapid growth led the sisters to a level of stature worthy of performing for a king — or a queen. They sang for Queen Elizabeth II and five presidents over their lengthy career.
The sisters remained popular throughout the rest of the 1950s, but the 1960s found the trio dealing with the optics of Phyllis McGuire’s connections to the Mafia. Reports suggested she had been romantically involved with Chicago mobster Sam Giancana, though she insisted it to only be a platonic relationship.
Before a grand jury in 1965, McGuire testified that she knew Giancana to be a criminal, though she knew no specific details of his activities.
1968 marked a temporary break to the group’s performances, with McGuire Sisters last appearing on “The Ed Sullivan Show.” Phyllis McGuire continued on a solo career during this time, though she had begun releasing songs alone in 1964.
She and her sisters reunited for group performances again in 1985, leading to almost two more decades of performances in Las Vegas and across other big cities. In 1994, while they were still singing as a group, the McGuire Sisters were inducted into the National Broadcasting Hall of Fame.
Around this time, the group began to appear less frequently, though still gave performances as a group throughout the next decade. Their final large-scale performance came in the 2004 PBS special, “Magic Moments: The Best of ’50s Pop.” Phyllis McGuire, the youngest of the trio, was in her 70s at the time.
McGuire’s sister Dorothy died in 2012 at the age of 84, while Christine died in 2018 at 92.