WASHINGTON — Christine McGuire, the oldest of the three McGuire Sisters, whose radio and television appearances and string of Top 20 hits in the 1950s made them one of the most popular female singing groups of their time, died Dec. 28 in Las Vegas, where she lived. She was 92.
Christine, Dorothy, and Phyllis McGuire grew up singing in the First Church of God in their hometown of Miamisburg, Ohio. Their mother, a minister at the church, encouraged their interest in singing but would not allow the sisters to listen to secular music.
It wasn’t until the late 1940s, when the sisters were in their late teens and early 20s, that they added a few up-tempo pop tunes to their repertoire and began to appear as a vocal trio at veterans’ hospitals, benefits, and other events. They were discovered by local bandleaders and radio stations and became known for their uncanny three-part harmony.
In 1952, the sisters pooled their savings and traveled to New York, hoping to audition for ‘‘Arthur Godfrey’s Talent Scouts,’’ a popular television show that was the ‘‘American Idol’’ of its time.
When the sisters performed for Godfrey, singing ‘‘Mona Lisa,’’ they won the contest and immediately became regulars on Godfrey’s top-rated radio and television shows. They had their first Top 10 hit in 1953 with a version of ‘‘Goodnight, Sweetheart, Goodnight.’’
The sisters’ biggest hit, ‘‘Sincerely’’ (originally performed by the Moonglows), was released in 1954 and spent 10 weeks at No. 1 on the Billboard pop chart. Their 1954 recording of Johnny Mercer’s suavely swinging ‘‘Something’s Gotta Give’’ soared to No. 5 on the chart.
As rock-and-roll began to filter onto the radio, the McGuire Sisters remained holdovers from an earlier, smoother musical era. The sisters toured constantly, recording a few minor hits, before striking gold again in 1958 with ‘‘Sugartime.’’