In a recent post about the DeJohn Sisters I mentioned that they’d been the inspiration for another singing group, the Bonnie Sisters, who weren’t sisters at all but still managed a Top Twenty hit in 1956 with “Cry Baby.” Unfortunately, it would be the girls’ only good-selling record, and they soon became yet another forgotten part of pop music history.
When Pat Ryan, Sylvia Totter, and Jean Borgia — nurses at New York’s Bellevue Hospital — saw the success enjoyed by the DeJohn Sisters, they decided they had a shot at a musical career too. Sometimes rehearsing at work, the threesome polished their act and began calling themselves the Belle Aimes, eventually gaining some exposure on Arthur Godfrey’s Talents Scouts. They also caught the eye of Mickey Baker (who would later be part of Mickey and Sylvia), and he helped them get a record deal.
To prepare for their breakout, the girls quit their nursing jobs, revamped their look, and changed the trio’s name to the Bonnie Sisters. Their debut single was “Cry Baby,” a song that had been around a while and already recorded by others, but it clicked with the record-buying public this time, and rose to number 18 on the charts. The girls were on their way.
But lasting fame was not in the cards. Subsequent singles like “Track That Cat,” “Wandering Heart” and “Confess” were duds, and before long the Bonnies dissolved and the members of the trio went back to nursing. However, their one hit song did inspire — and furnish the title for — John Waters’ 1990 film, one of Johnny Depp’s earliest starring roles.
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