The Fontane Sisters

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The Fontane Sisters
The Fontane Sisters.jpg
The Fontane Sisters
Geri (left), Marge (center), Bea (right)
Background information
Origin New Milford, New Jersey, United States
Years active 1941–1961
Associated acts The Ross Trio
Past members Bea Rosse –born December 12, 1915[1]
Marge Rosse – born October 19, 1917
Geri Rosse - born October 15, 1921[2]
Frank Rosse

The Fontane Sisters were a trio (Bea, Geri and Marge Rosse) from New Milford, New Jersey.[3]

Early years

Their mother, Louise Rosse, was both a soloist and the leader of the St. Joseph's Church choir in New Milford.[4] Bea and Marge started out singing for local functions, doing so well, they were urged to audition in New York City. Originally they performed as a trio with their guitarist brother Frank, under the name the Ross Trio (Rosse with the "e" omitted).[5] The group auditioned for NBC and was soon sent off to work in Cleveland.[6] When they returned to New York in 1944, Frank was drafted into the Army; he was killed in action in World War II.[7] Geri, who had just finished school, took her brother's place, making it an all-girl trio.[4][6]

Success

The now all-female group chose the name of Fontaine from a great-grandmother; they decided to drop the "i", making themselves the Fontane Sisters.[5] The sisters worked on sustaining (non-sponsored) programs for NBC, meeting and working with Perry Como soon after he came to the network. Word reached the sisters, then in Chicago for NBC, that "Supper Club" would be making cast changes; they were eager for a chance to join Como's show, which also meant being closer to their home.[6] Beginning in the summer of 1948, they were featured on his radio show and television show known as The Chesterfield Supper Club and later (1950–1954) as The Perry Como Show.[8][9] The trio also did appearances on Chesterfield Sound Off Time when the program originated from New York; however, the television show lasted only one season.[6][10] The street Fontane Dr in Cornwall, NY was named after the Fontane sisters.[citation needed]

In 1949 they were signed by RCA Records, and did some recordings as backup to Como.[11] In 1951 they had a minor hit with "The Tennessee Waltz", of which bigger selling recordings were made by Patti Page and Les Paul and Mary Ford.

In 1954 they switched to Randy Wood's Dot Records,[12] where they had 18 songs reaching the Billboard pop charts, including ten in the Top 40. Their late 1954 recording, "Hearts of Stone", sold over one million copies, and was awarded a gold disc.[13]

Retirement

The Fontane Sisters retired from show business around 1961, when youngest sister Geri was expecting her daughter.[14] The daughter was named after Geri, and as an adult she went by the name 'Geri Fontane Latchford' — 'Latchford' coming from her father's name, Al(bert) Latchford.[5] Geri and Al had one daughter; neither Bea nor Marge had any children.[4][6][14] Marge Fontane felt that the trio did not want to continue the grind of tours and mixing with the newer members of the music scene. The sisters agreed that they did not want to be part of the evolving rock and roll scene, and wanted private lives. Geri married Al Latchford, a history professor.[7] Marge was married to Franklin Hobbs, who became a long-time on air personality at WCCO in Minneapolis-St. Paul. They met while the sisters were still working in Chicago for NBC.[4][6][15][16] She remarried and became Marge Smith, the wife of an advertising executive. Only Marge left the area, relocating to Florida with her second husband.[14] Bea became Mrs. E. Holmes Douglass in 1964.[14][17]

In 1963, Dot Records did release one last album, Tips of my Fingers, and single ("Tips of My Fingers" / "Summertime Love") by The Fontane Sisters. But these recordings did not mark a return to performing for the trio, who remained retired despite having agreed to make the recordings for Dot.

Deaths

For the next 40 years, The Fontane Sisters remained mostly out of the public's eye. In 2004 an article in the New York Daily News reported that Geri Fontane Latchford had received royalties due to her mother and two aunts. It was revealed in this same article that all three of The Fontane Sisters had died: Geri, on September 13, 1993;[2] Bea, on March 25, 2002;[1] and Marge, on December 3, 2003.[18] In 2001, RCA Victor released a compilation of recordings made by the Fontane Sisters and Perry Como, "Perry Como With The Fontane Sisters", containing many of the songs featured on the Como radio and television shows.[19]

Hit Records

Recordings

References

  1. 1.0 1.1 "Bea Fontane". OTRRpedia. Retrieved 6 April 2011.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  2. 2.0 2.1 "Geri Fontane". OTRRpedia. Retrieved 6 April 2011.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  3. "Two Gypsy Folk Tales". Ottawa Citizen. 8 August 1949. Retrieved 24 June 2010.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  4. 4.0 4.1 4.2 4.3 Biographies of Dot Artists-The Fontane Sisters. Billboard. 9 March 1954. Retrieved 10 January 2011.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  5. 5.0 5.1 5.2 Werley, Judy (27 June 1975). "Fontane Sisters' Mother Still Keeps Busy". The Evening News. Retrieved 11 January 2011.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  6. 6.0 6.1 6.2 6.3 6.4 6.5 "Fontane Sisters Spend Yule with Parents in Cornwall". The Newburgh News. 26 December 1951. Retrieved 3 November 2010.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  7. 7.0 7.1 Okon, May (20 February 1955). "They Have Hair Harmony, Too". New York Sunday News. p. 7. Retrieved 4 April 2015.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  8. Macfarlane, Malcolm, ed. (2009), Perry Como: A Biography and Complete Career Record, McFarland, p. 310, ISBN 0-7864-3701-4, retrieved 2010-04-28<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  9. Slifka, Adrian M. (14 August 1954). "Networks Budget Millions For 'Rainbow' TV Shows". Youngstown Vindicator. Retrieved 24 October 2010.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  10. "Chesterfield Sound Off Time". Internet Movie Database. Retrieved 3 November 2010.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  11. Recorders Snare Wax Talent. Billboard. 22 January 1949. Retrieved 11 January 2011.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  12. Dot Inks Term Pact With Fontane Sisters. Billboard. 17 April 1954. Retrieved 11 January 2011.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  13. Murrells, Joseph (1978). The Book of Golden Discs (2nd ed.). London: Barrie and Jenkins Ltd. p. 68. ISBN 0-214-20512-6.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  14. 14.0 14.1 14.2 14.3 Schiff, Martha (23 January 1977). "Where Are The Fontane Sisters Now?". The Evening News. Retrieved 10 January 2011.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  15. "Franklin Hobbs". Minneapolis-St. Paul Museum of Broadcasting. Retrieved 10 January 2011.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  16. "Voice of all-night radio legend Franklin Hobbs falls still". Star-Tribune. 20 October 1995. Retrieved 10 January 2011.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles> "Hobbs married Marge Fontane, one of the three Fontane sisters who performed on radio and TV." (pay-per-view)
  17. "Attendants For Fontane Bridal Named". The Evening News. 1 April 1964. Retrieved 10 January 2011.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  18. Peterson, Helen (13 May 2004). "MUSIC TO THEIR HEIRS Long-lost royalties delivered". New York Daily News. Retrieved 2 July 2010.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
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  28. "There's No Boat Like a Rowboat". Kokomo. Retrieved 2 July 2010.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
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External links