Who are the Fontane Sisters?
The Fontane Sisters were a 1950s to 1960s traditional pop music trio consisting of sisters, of course – Bea, Marge and Geri. Their popularity peaked in the 1950s – they performed in several tours and appeared on radio and TV shows such as the The Chesterfield Supper Club and The Perry Como Show. Their singles include many Top 20 hits: “Hearts Of Stone” (their only #1 single). “Rock Love,” “Rollin’ Stone,” “Seventeen,” “Daddy-O,” “Eddie My Love,” “Happy Days and Lonely Nights;” their Top 40 single “Tennessee Waltz” later became more famous when it was re-recorded by a few more artists, notably by Patti Page. The sisters retired in the early 1960s and led their own private lives.
The formation of the Fontane Sisters
The Fontane Sisters were a 1950s to 1960s traditional pop music trio consisting of sisters, of course – Bea, Marge and Geri in their actual surname, Rosse.
Their mother Louise was a singer at their local church choir in New Milford, in New Jersey. Music ran in the family; prior to the formation of the Fontane Sisters, the group used to consist of the two girls, Bea and Marge, and their brother Frank who played guitar, they became known as the Ross Trio (the “e” in the Rosse removed). When Frank (who was drafted into the US Army) perished in action during World War II, the youngest sister Geri joined her older sisters and they became the Fontane Sisters. That “Fontane” was derived from their great-grandmother; the sisters omitted the “i” which became “Fontane.”
Collaboration with Perry Como
Soon after they were formed, the Fontane sisters had their first collaboration with Perry Como. The girls went on to work with Como on his radio and television shows and also backed him up on his records including the chart-topping singles “You’re Adorable” and “Hoop-Dee-Doo.”
Stint on RCA-Victor label
The Fontane Sisters were signed to RCA-Victor in the late 1940s. In 1951 the sisters achieved their first hit with “Tennessee Waltz.” It reached at #20 on the national charts, later artitsts such as Patti Page, Les Paul, and Mary Ford made the song into a bigger-selling record. Other recordings done on RCA include “Castle Rock” and “Cold, Cold Heart.”
The Fontane Sisters’ tenure on Dot label
In 1954 the Fontaine Sisters signed to Dot Records and made their first hit there with “Happy Days and Lonely Nights.” Not long after that, the sisters achieved thei first #1 hit with “Hearts of Stone,” written by composer Rudy Jackson.
Their other notable hits on Dot Records include: “Rock Love” (#13 pop), “Rollin’ Stone” (#13 pop), “Playmates” (#13 pop), “Seventeen” (#3 pop), “Daddy-O” (#11 pop). “Eddie My Love” (#11 pop), “Banana Boat Song” (#13 pop), and “Chanson d’amour” (#12 pop) as well as a slew of other minor hits through 1954 and 1958.
The sisters’ lives after the spotlight
In 1961, the sisters retired, never wanting to do any tours, to mingle with the new artists of the music scene, and to be associated with the rock ‘n roll which at that time was growing in popularity. They all married and led private lives, but Geri was the only one who bore a child. All three of the Fontane sisters died – Geri in 1993, Bea in 2002 and Marge in 2003.