Barbara Mandrell and the Mandrell sisters were already huge stars when they landed their very own TV variety show in
Barbara had been in the spotlight since she was a young child because of her ability to read music and play steel guitar. Her father, Irby, took her to a music trade convention in Chicago, where she caught the attention of RCA Records producer and musician Chet Atkins. Shortly after, at just 13-years-old, Barbara began touring with Patsy Cline, Johnny Cash, and George Jones.
She soon became a master on the pedal steel guitar, lap steel guitar, accordion, saxophone, and banjo. After noticing their other daughters Irlene and Louise were quite talented as well, Irby and his wife, Mary, along with their three daughters formed the Mandrell Family Band.
Although she went on to pursue a solo country singing career, she always remained close with her family and when she and her sisters were given the opportunity to host a show together, they jumped at the chance. In 1980, Barbara Mandrell and the Mandrell Sisters premiered on NBC, which featured musical guests and comedy sketches.
In just two years on the air, Barbara earned a People’s Choice Award and a Golden Globe nomination for her work on the show.
In 1986, the sisters reunited for a Christmas special called Barbara Mandrell Christmas: A Family Reunion. The TV special ad the same format as their variety show, but also featured two people that have supported their careers in a way no one else did.
Our video begins with Louise Mandrell’s beautiful rendition of “The Christmas Song”. While sitting on a couch next to her two sisters, Louise belted out the Christmas classic, which talks about chestnuts roasting on an open fire, and people dressing up like eskimos.
The sisters invited their parents, Irby and Mary, to the stage to talk about some of their fondest family memories around Christmas time. Barbara tells a hilarious story of how her father always seems to guess what she buys him for Christmas and in a way to trick him, things went awry!
She bought him a gold cigarette lighter when she was 16, but to disguise the box, she wrapped it in several different boxes to throw him off! Irby saw the huge box and called Barbara, changing his voice to make it sound as if he were Louise or Irlene and asked what she got their dad for Christmas! Without skipping a beat, Barbara spilled the beans!
The family sang one of their favorite parodies of “Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer”, and at the request of Mary, they all sang her favorite song “Silent Night”. It’s no wonder the family started a band together. They are all so talented!
Watch a clip from the Christmas special below.