- Sixty-eight years have passed since The Lennon Sisters’ dynamic voices were discovered worldwide.
- The sisters are still alive, between the ages of 67 and 83, married, and remain closer than ever. and Two of them have grandchildren, and three still perform today, amazing fans with their well-preserved voices.
- Here is a look inside their lives today.
The Lennon Sisters are most likely America’s longest-standing singing girl group that emerged in the 1950s. The insanely talented group of sisters come from a Catholic musical family of eleven children and have been singing since childhood.
The sisters are Californians, born in Venice. Though not all eleven siblings had an affinity for the show business industry, the quartet of older sisters—Dianne (DeeDee), Peggy, Kathy, and Janet Lennon—always enjoyed harmonizing and singing.
Lawrence Welk Jr., the son of American artist and host Lawrence Welk, discovered the quartet. The eldest Lennon sister, Dianne, had gone to school with Welk Jr., and the pair had started dating.
One day after school, Welk Jr. brought the sisters home to his dad to perform for him. Welk Sr. was impressed by their talent, leading him to invite them to appear on his show, “The Lawrence Welk Show.”
In 1955, the band appeared on the show’s Christmas Eve TV broadcast, captivating the audience with their acapella rendition of “He.” The quartet quickly gained popularity and recognition for their musical prowess.
The girls were still young at the time they got their start in the industry. The youngest sisters, Kathy and Janet, recalled they were only twelve and nine, respectively.
The performers started as child stars, but their childhood was never compromised. One of the youngest of the group, Janet, reports that the sisters had a wonderful childhood they wouldn’t mind reliving the experiences again.
The Lennon Sisters were raised in a loving, stable, and secure environment that prioritized the importance of responsibilities and household duties. The second youngest sister of the group, Kathy, shared a glimpse into what their day-to-day would look like after they were done performing:
“Mom and Dad made it such a normal childhood even though we were doing…shows and a weekly television show every Saturday night for 13 years, and then our own shows. We would sing and then go home and do dishes and change younger siblings’ diapers and do our homework and go to regular school.”
The songstresses’ musical talents became hugely sought after, and in 1994, upon Welk Jr.’s request, the sisters began to feature as recurring acts in “The Lawrence Welk Show” and quickly became the program’s stars.
The show was taped in Branson, Missouri, where Welk Jr. had built a resort center and theater. The sisters continued performing even after they all got engaged and married.
In 1968, the angelic-sounding artists posed in bridal gowns for one of TV Radio Mirror magazine’s covers. The article featured a story about which of the sisters had the “happiest” married life. It also gave insight into which one of them had the most challenging time adjusting to married life.
The four sisters looked stunning in their uniquely designed wedding dresses which were all white. Veils and tiaras accompanied all the gowns, and all four sisters looked happy in the photos.
The sister singing group remained closer than ever after they had all married. They kept their sibling bond and their families close while they carried on performing.
They also prided themselves on humility and leading lives rooted in normality, reality, and gratitude. The second eldest sister, Peggy, disclosed that she and her sisters were always taught the importance of grounding themselves and upholding family values over being charmed by fame:
“We were family, not TV people. When we got married, people sent us wedding presents.”
Despite forming their own families after getting married, the sisters still lived close to one another in Los Angeles—approximately 15 minutes apart. Even as showbiz working moms, they diligently ensured their families were well cared for.
Monetary-wise, the siblings are responsible when it comes to their spending habits. They claim they go through the same challenges that any other mother in the U.S. does, and their older sister, Peggy, attests to this:
“None of us has a lot of money in our savings, even though we’ve worked for 26 years. The responsibility of being mothers is much more important than stashing away a million bucks. In a sense, we’re struggling away just like any other mother in the U.S.”
“Thank God They’re Alive”: The Lennon Sisters Are Not Just Alive but Still Have the Same Incredible Voices
It has been sixty-eight years since The Lennon Sisters started in the music industry. Fans wondered what happened to the beautiful artists since they were last seen performing many years ago.
However, in 2020 the group (now a trio) appeared on KMOV to discuss reprising their starring role on “The Andy Williams Ozark Mountain Christmas Show.” The sisters also performed a Christmas hymn, and fans were instantly transported back to when the group was in its prime.
Fans of The Lennon Sisters immediately flooded the YouTube clip’s comment section with loving comments. A few commentators noted the band’s extended absence from the performance realm, with one person even thinking that some sisters had passed away.
Many had even thought the entire group had retired and stopped singing altogether. One fan, in particular, was so overjoyed to discover the group was still alive and well, writing:
“Lennon sisters!? Oh, God! Thank God they[‘re] still alive.”
The outpouring of love from their fans continued with even more compliments allocated to their never-ending singing prowess. Many fans were pleasantly surprised that the singers had maintained their beautiful and angelic voices from when they started decades ago.
Comments about how “heavenly,” “amazing,” and “young” their voices sounded took center stage. Fans anticipated that the seasoned beauties would sound different from their past performances.
The group now performs as a trio of sisters comprising original members Kathy and Janet and their other sister, Mimi, who replaced Peggy when she retired in 1999. Diane followed suit and retired in 2001.
In 1987, The Lennon Sisters were awarded a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame for their contributions to the television industry. The group was also inducted into the Vocal Group Hall of Fame in 2001.
The sisters have remained steadfast confidantes, supporting each other through the storms they have encountered. One of their most significant hardships was the untimely and tragic death of their father, William Herbert Lennon. He was murdered by a deranged fan and stalker who mistakenly believed he was married to one of the sisters.
Though the family endured an incredibly challenging time during this period, the siblings persevered through strength, faith, and unity. Regarding the tragic event, Kathy Lennon expressed the following sentiment:
“The tragedy changed all of our lives, yet we came out knowing we had each other. We had [our] Mom, and we were blessed together.”
As mentioned, all the Lennon sisters are married, with some having children. Additionally, two of the sisters are now grandmothers. In 1966, Janet married Lee Bernhardi and had three children. However, they divorced in 1976, after which Janet went on to marry John Bahler.
Kathy tied the knot with her first husband, Mahlon Clark, in 1967. However, they divorced in 1981. The following year, she married James Daris.
Before joining The Lennon Sisters, Mimi organized the group’s fan mail. She is a mother of two children, whom she shares with her spouse, Daniel Macias. Mimi and Daniel exchanged vows in 1977 and have since become proud grandparents of four grandchildren.
What Happened to Peggy Lennon?
Though The Lennon Sisters were idolized, favored, and adored by many across the globe, fans still had a favorite Lennon sister, and that sister was Peggy. Many still love her immensely, despite her retirement from the musical group.
In a nostalgic throwback photo of the singing legend, an outpouring of comments expressed fans’ deep admiration and love for the sister group. Several commentators mentioned that the artist had been a cherished favorite of theirs since the band’s early formation.
The singer is adored by her fans immensely. In a picture posted by her daughter, Julianne Mary Cathcart, Peggy was captured sitting on a couch alongside American actor and producer Kelsey Grammer.
The star’s fans expressed their admiration, describing her as “fantastic” and remarking on how amazing she still looks. Many fans praised the beloved Lennon sister for her talents, sweet personality, and graceful beauty.
Before Peggy married Bob Felt, she was married to Dick Cathcart for 30 years until he passed away from cancer in 1993. In 1995, she married Felt, a doctor.
After retiring from the singing group, Peggy relocated from Branson to be closer to her husband, as his medical practice was based in Los Angeles then. Reflecting on her performance days, she shared how they fell in love:
“After Bob went home to Los Angeles, we talked on the phone, and eventually, we fell in love – long-distance. [After we got married] Bob had his practice in Los Angeles, and I had my work at the Champagne Theater, so for four crazy years, every two months, Bob came to visit me for a week.”
After losing Cathcart and finding love again with Felt, Peggy became blissfully happy being a wife again and enjoyed solidifying her close relationship with her daughter, Julianne Mary Cathcart, born during her previous marriage. Currently, Peggy enjoys carrying out her grandmotherly duties. She performs occasionally, often accompanied by her son, Michael Cathcart.
Dianne “Dee Dee” Lennon Faced the Biggest Challenge of Her Life
After Peggy’s retirement, Mimi stepped in to replace her. Meanwhile, eldest sister Dianne, who had been battling cancer, retired from the band two years later. She successfully fought the disease and became a cancer survivor.
According to her sisters, Dianne, affectionately known as “Dee Dee,” was always the family’s most organized and responsible sibling. As the older sister of ten siblings, she took on the role of caretaker and protector, always looking after and safeguarding her younger siblings.
In a heartfelt birthday tribute dedicated to Dianne, The Lennon Sisters expressed their deep admiration and affection for their fiercely protective sister, stating:
“Dianne Barbara Lennon Gass, our sister [was] always the most beautiful and so organized and in control. As children, being the oldest, she helped us when we were on tour and traveling.”
Diane married her husband, Richard “Dick” Edward Gass, in 1960, and the couple shares three children. Diane had been very expressive about the fact that she had always wanted to become a wife and mother, and once she became one, she found herself absolutely thrilled.
In a past sit-down interview with OETA, she spoke openly about her life. The singing sensation disclosed the intricate details of her and her husband’s journey to parenthood:
“When we got married, we wanted to have a family right away, and I was told I probably couldn’t have any children, so we adopted darling little Mary. We brought her home at a day and a half, and then nine months and three days later, we had Dee Dee, and 18 months later, we had Tommy. So I had three in 27 months after being told I would never have any.”
After she got married, Diane decided to leave the show The Lennon Sisters were part of. She stated that it was a joint decision between her and her husband because she wanted to spend more time at home.
However, after two years of being off the show, she made her return when her husband’s phone company went on strike. The couple feared their adoption process would be halted due to both becoming unemployed, so after a phone call from Welk Sr., Diane returned for the Saturday shows.
Diane was a true daddy’s girl; she and her father shared a very close relationship throughout his life. Being the eldest with three girls following after her, her father had long wanted a boy in the family. The singing sister quips about how she metaphorically became her dad’s boychild at one point in time:
“Because he had four girls first and wanted a boy, so I was his ‘boy,’ and I used to go play golf with him early in the morning before school when I was six. We went to every UCLA football game, [and] Rams’ football game; I was his boy, and I really enjoyed that.”
The eldest Lennon sister has led a remarkably accomplished and successful life. In addition to her exceptional singing talent, she has pursued a career as a kindergarten teacher, a profession she adores due to her love for children.
Furthermore, she finds immense joy in being a devoted grandmother to her grown children’s offspring. While she has already achieved most, if not all, of her dreams, she harbors a future aspiration of owning a quaint bookstore.
Her dream of owning a bookstore stems from her love of teaching and reading. She explained how she envisions this plan coming to fruition:
“In the very back of my mind, someday, I would like to open a little bookshop with a bakery upstairs or something. And I’d like to have people come by and read old books, and I’d like to bake the things, and I don’t know, just visit with people. That would be way in the back of my mind someday.”
Diane is currently in retirement, savoring the love and companionship of her children, grandchildren, and husband. The bond between the sisters remains unbreakable, as they are best friends with hearts of gold, placing family as their top priority.
Even after their debut on Welk’s show, the iconic music group continues to perform to date, delighting audiences in the cities they frequently visit.