Hillbilly-Music.comThe People. The Music. The History.
About the Group
About The Group
April and Patricia Obrenovich were known as The Smile Sisters (Patricia was the younger of the two) began their radio career as a singing duo at radio station WSTV, which then was a 250 watt station, in Steubenville, Ohio. Pat had taught myself to play the guitar and after graduating from high school in 1940, they decided to audition at Radio Station WSTV. The station management must have like what they heard and the girls were given a weekly program. The station introduced them to the listening audience as "Two Girls and a Guitar."
The girls were both country music fans and listened to all the different performers on the many radio stations they could pick up. They came from a family of seven brothers and sisters. Pat relates that they were all able to sing and harmonize with one another and play various musical instruments - all self-taught.
In their very early years, the girls would sing and entertain at school and other functions and were always ready to entertain an audience.
By 1941 Paul Miller, then program manager at radio station WWVA Wheeling, West Virginia, had heard the girls on WSTV called them and asked them to audition for WWVA - a 50,000 watt station with a large listening audience.
Within a few weeks, Pat and April were hired on with a group headed by "Uncle Mose." The station renamed the girls act as "The Smile Sisters" and asked that the girls use their middle names. So, April became Rose and Pat became Helen. Station management felt that April and Pat were names that were "too sophisticated for a country western radio station". The girls went along with the change and were very happy at WWVA with all the loyal fans they got to meet during their appearances and great people they worked with at the station.
After two months with "Uncle Mose" and his group, the girls had seemingly made an impression with both the station and the fans and were given their own program and appeared on the legendary WWVA World's Original Jamboree that was held every Saturday night in Wheeling.
The girls were later asked asked by the WWVA staff orchestra to become their vocalists and did work with the orchestra for a few shows. But their father's health was not the best at that time.
The Smile Sisters and their family left WWVA in 1944 and left for Phoenix, Arizona. The girls were hired on at radio station KTAR in Phoenix and then became associated with another Phoenix station, KOY, which Jack Williams owned and operated. Jack Williams later became governor of Arizona.
In perhaps testament to the fans they touched with their music while they were with WWVA even for seemingly a short time, Mary Jean Shurtz in her "I've Been Listening" column in the June 1946 issue of Mountain Broadcast and Prairie Recorder mentions she had heard from a fan in Lisbon, Ohio asking about the whereabouts of Curley Simms, The Smile Sisters, Rose and Helen and Janie, a female singer who had been with Toby Stroud. She mentioned that Janie had left the air and that Curley was working with the Doc Williams show. But alas, Mary Jean had no other information about the Smile Sisters.
The gals continued entertaining fans during World War II, touring the army camps with a troupe from Los Angeles. Through those appearances or perhaps later, they became acquainted with Steve Allen and did several shows with him.
When their mother died in 1950, April (Rose) decided she did not want to continue the act so they went their separate ways.
Helen dearly loved singing however and later, made some personal appearances and guest spots on television.
The sisters both married in the 1950's and each had one daughter. Helen (Pat) relates that her daughter Jan has a beautiful singing voice and they occasionally sing and harmonize together. Pat is now 81 years of age (in 2004) but still finds the time to sing and play her guitar. Her sister April (Rose) passed away in 1985.
Note: In the picture at the top of the page, April or Rose is on the left and Patricia or Helen is on the right.
Timeline and Trivia Notes
Group Members included:
Credits & Sources