Bud Abbott and Lou Costello were one of the biggest, if not the greatest comedy act during the golden age of Hollywood in the 1940s. Their burlesque stand-up routines and radio performances from the mid 1930s endeared them to audience all over. By 1940 they effortlessly made the leap to motion pictures. Their screen debut performance for Universal Studios was as supporting actors in One Night in the Tropics (1940). It was followed by Buck Privates (1941) which became their first starring vehicle and ticket to worldwide fame. The success of the film, although far from their best, had enough laughs and plenty of singing to make it an enjoyable movie. Along for the ride in this US pre-war propaganda movie were also the singing trio known as The Andrew Sisters.
The Andrews Sisters – Patty, Maxene and LaVerne – were at the height of their fame during the war years with radio success and record sales the primary motivator for Universal Pictures to offer them a movie contract. They first appeared in Argentine Nights in 1940 and went on to appear in 17 Hollywood movies. Interestingly, their on-screen association with Abbott and Costello, while brief but memorable is associated with the films Buck Privates (1941), In The Navy (1941) and Hold That Ghost (1941). It is arguably Buck Privates that is best remembered of the three, which finds the Andrews Sisters showing up at an army training camp to lift morale. It is here dressed in service uniforms that “America’s Wartime Sweethearts” perform several numbers in the film, one of which includes the iconic moment where they belt out before a room of army cadets one of their most famous songs – Boogie Woogie Bugle Boy.
Interestingly, and perhaps because of their lively rendition of Boogie Woogie Bugle Boy in Buck Privates, The Andrew Sisters would become synonymous with the war effort in America during the 1940s. They would go on to perform their biggest hits to Allied forces in Africa, Italy and the US.
In the years that followed The Andrews Sisters Boogie Woogie Bugle Boy would weave itself into the fabric of American pop culture. It would even inspire Bette Milder to record it in 1972 instantly reviving the iconic World War Two jump blues tune and its fortunes to a new generation of fans.