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Lennon Sisters
old photo of the Lennon Sisters ages 9 to 16
Ranging in age from nine to sixteen, the young Lennon Sisters captured the hearts of America. Courtesy photo

The Lennon Sisters –
America's Sweethearts of Song Star In
Lennon Family Benefit Concert

By Beverly Cohn

typical 1950s American family seated around their black and white television set
A typical 1950s American family seated around their black-and-white television set. Courtesy photo.

the Lennon family of Venice, California
The Venice, California Lennon family. Courtesy photo

hom among us of a certain age don't remember crowding around our Motorola black-and-white TV sets with 8 1/2- to 19 1/2-inch screens every Saturday night to watch "The Lawrence Welk Show" featuring the adorable, squeaky-clean Lennon Sisters who entertained audiences on his show for thirteen years, beginning in 1965.

Born and raised in Venice, California into a strict Catholic family, which eventually numbered 11 children, the singing quartet, consisting of Dianne (DeeDee), Peggy, Kathy, and Janet, ranging in ages from nine to sixteen, captured the hearts of the "Geritol" audience, singing mostly faith-based or spiritual songs with their sweet, four-part harmony.

poster of Lennon Family Benefit Concert
The Santa Monica Bay Woman's Club hosted this
annual event. Photo: Beverly Cohn.

Still singing after all these years, the sisters headlined The 3rd Annual Lennon Family Benefit Concert recently held at the Santa Monica Bay Woman's Club where dozens of incredibly talented members of the sprawling Lennon family, including the wonderful local Venice Band, joined together for a rousing, four-hour concert. What is particularly awesome is the phenomenon of that special musical gene being passed down from generation to generation beginning perhaps in the 1940s and 50s with the Lennon Brothers who sang with Paul Whiteman. That special sound of the "Modernaires" and other swing vocal groups of that era, is quite apparent in the current Lennon family groups of performers such as "The Lennon Bros. & Gail Lennon" and "The Lennon Cathcart Trio." As one of the Lennons put it, "Our family proliferated like rabbits and at last count there were approximately 350-400 of us," which includes aunts, uncles, and 270 cousins.

Venice Band with Kipp Lennon
Kipp Lennon (lower left) shared a poignant story about finding his son
after 24 years. Courtesy photo.

Many enchanting stories were shared throughout the evening with one particularly poignant story, and one that might illustrate "nature over nurture," told by Venice lead singer Kipp, younger brother of the Lennon Sisters. When he was a young man, he gave up a baby son for adoption but 24 years later he decided to find him. His name is Charlie Vaughn and although raised by adoptive parents, when Kipp reconnected with him, Charlie was singing, composing, and playing the guitar. It seems that Lennon musical gene can't be crushed and together they performed a tender song about retirement, "I'm Sorry Mr. Jones."

For this annual fundraiser concert benefiting Dr. Susan Love Research, B.R.A.I.N., My Stuff Bags, and the Santa Monica Bay Woman's Club, 31 Lennon family members, many of whom live and perform in Branson, Missouri at the Welk Resort Theatre, gathered together with cousins and uncles from Ojai and Venice and kicked off the evening with a rendition of a rousing gospel number by The Byrds "There's A Meetin' Here Tonight."

the now Lennon Sisters trio - Kathy, Janet, and Mimi
L-R: Kathy, Janet, and Mimi Lennon sing as a trio since
DeeDee retired. Courtesy photo.

The now Lennon Sisters trio – Kathy, Janet, and Mimi(Diane retired but did join in throughout the evening) sang a nostalgic set of standards including "When I Fall in Love," "It Must Have Been Moonglow," "Autumn Leaves," and "You Go To My Head." Other memorable musical moments included The Lennon Cathcart Trio's beautiful rendition of Bob Dylan's classic "Blowin' in the Wind," Uncle Tom's amusing song about beer, his daughter Laurie Beth's lilting flute solo accompaniment to the Lennon Bros. & Gail Lennon's "Sky Lark," Peggy Lennon's tribute to World War II "My Buddy," as well as songs by Tom's son Ted and of course, fabulous selections from Venice, including "Right Where We Left Off," a sweet ballad honoring family ties.

the Lennon cousins performing 'The Family Tree' at the Lennon Family Benefit Concert
The Lennon Sisters with their first, second, and third cousins in a rousing rendition of "The Family Tree." Photo: Maria Younghans

The enthusiastic audience, packed with family, friends, and long-time fans, cheered wildly after each number, with the evening culminating in a tender "The Family Tree" sung by the 31 first, second, and third Lennon cousins. May the branches of this family tree continue to grow for such an exceptionally talented clan is truly a musical gift to us all.

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Let Bev know what you think about her traveling adventure.

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Thanks so much for those lovely tourism photos, especially of Ireland. I certainly enjoyed all the places you suggested, and am working towards my next vacation. Don’t forget Cuba. That’s an exciting place.

Rosalie, Los Angeles

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Enjoyed your article on Mira Sorvino. Such an interesting background – family, education, career and now human rights activist. I'm not a gossip mag fan so getting more meaty news about movie celebrities from you gives me hope that there are some inteligent life forms in Hollywood.

Peter Paul, Pasadena, CA

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Thank you, Bev. This reminded me to go see the movie, "An Education," which I had already almost forgotten about, having seen the preview a few weeks ago. I enjoy this actress quite a bit--she has a uniqueness about her and she pulls me in. I enjoyed this.

Sandeee, Seattle, WA

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Thank you Beverly,I really enjoyed reading about your intimate conversation with Forest, of whom I am a great admirer. I look forward to seeing the film "Our Family Wedding."

Yoka, Westlake Village, CA

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Thank you for the sending me the beautiful article you wrote about Ireland. We will use your recomendations for hotels in the Southern part. We plan to also go to Dublin and some other Northern cities so I will get some recommendations for these from others. After reading your article, I am getting more excited about going. I think we will be in Ireland for 8 days altogether.

Leah Mendelsohn, Santa Monica, CA

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Very much enjoyed Ms. Cohn's article about Munich, especially the visuals. Though it has been 25 years since my last visit, the piece brought back countless pleasant memories of the city and the people!! Many thanks.

Lawrence, Los Angeles

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Marianplatz and that general area is truly one of the best Christmas celebrations in the world. Between that and Oktoberfest (which I can only imagine) Munich is one of the greatest cities in the world for major annual events.

Christopher Dale, New York, NY

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Hi Bev, you have done some wonderful pieces on some great celebs...Great work. The travel articles are just wonderful too.

Scott Mueller, Huntington Beach, CA

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Your great Zurich article makes me want to go there for the holidays! I love the photos, too, especially the ones of you in the sleigh, the view over the houses and the zoo!

Anna Marie, Santa Monica, CA

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Lovely article! As a European, and having been to Zurich (albeit in summer) I can vouch for this lovely city. Great pictures, too!

Helene Robins, Santa Monica, CA

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Hi Bev,

Nice review, nice seeing you, nice website interface "...Talk to Bev" - Enjoy your Thanksgiving!

Richard D. Kaye, Marina del Rey, CA

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Hi Bev,

Your interview with John Cusack is very interesting. I always wondered why these actors/actresses always get top billing when really, if you think about it, the real work come from the animators, writers and tech whizzes who spend far more hours on the movie than those actors. I know, I know, it's the all about marketing. The names of these actors are what bring in the big bucks. Still, I think these actors are way overpaid for the "little" that they do.

I remember that once upon a time, the early animation classics never mentioned the voices behind the characters. I think it was only later when Walt Disney tapped into the voices of known celebrities like Walter Matthau in the Jungle Book or Zsa Zsa Gabor in The Rescuers that the voices became a marketing magnet.

Keep up the good work. I enjoy your interviews as you peer into the lives of the Hollywood celebrities.

Peter Paul of South Pasadena, CA

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