Formed by tenor Jinny Osborn in 1949 (whose father was national president for The Society For The Preservation And Encouragement Of Barbershop Quartet Singing In America Inc) the Chordettes - Janet Ertel, Carol Bushman and lead singer Dorothy Schwartz - got their in 1949 winning an audition for a spot on Arthur Godfrey's prestigious Talent Scouts daily TV show.
Godfrey pronounced them "air worthy" and "truly radiophonic" and the girls began a four-year stint as Godfrey regulars, sticking to a traditional a cappella barbershop repertoire and even cutting some records for Columbia. Unsurprisingly they also became the new stars of the barbershop convention circuit, and when Dorothy left the Chordettes in 1951, she was replaced by barbershopper Lynn Evans from Youngstown, Ohio.
Godfrey, dubbed "King of the Casual Communicators", insisted the girls stay pure barbershop, but his musical director, orchestra leader Archie Bleyer, disagreed. When Bleyer quit Godfrey's show to concentrate on his new record company Cadence (with its first star Julius LaRosa, who'd been sacked 'on air' by Godfrey in 1953), he was also courting Janet Ertel.
The inevitable happened: the Chordettes signed with Cadence and left Godfrey, though paying tribute to the kindness of their first mentor "He was like a little father to us", recalled Lynn Evans.
Archie and Janet wed and the bond between the Chordettes and Cadence strengthened.
Bleyer began recording the girls using simple arrangements in order not to clutter the vocals, and in 1954 their second single Mr Sandman rocketed them to major chart success. The sensational Chordettes' vocal arrangement plus the saucy flavour imparted by translating it from a man's to a girl's plea, kept Mr Sandman perched atop the US Hot 100 for seven weeks.