Find Out Why “Barbara Mandrell and the Mandrell Sisters” Went Off-Air

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There have benn several musical families that have changed the landscape of music, such as the Osmonds, the Jacksons and the Mandrells. The sisters both as a trio, as well as individuals, had a unique sound that still influence artists today. The sisters cross the borders beyond country music, in 1980, through their variety show “Barbara Mandrell and the Mandrell Sisters”. The show was super successful, but yet it was taken off air after two seasons. Discover the truth of the Mandrell Sisters and why their show was taken off-air.

The Variety Show Watched By Millions

By the 1970s, all three Mandrell sisters had established themselves as an individual. However, Barbara had the most popularity due to her several hit singles. But, when she was approached to do a variety show, she knew her two sisters had to join her. “Barbara Mandrell and the Mandrell Sisters” premiered in 1980 and millions watched every week. Therefore, when it went off air after 2 seasons, many were left wondering why the show was canceled.

A Love That Was Forbidden

After Barbara had gone on tour with big artists, her father, Irby, decided to put together a band, that featured all of the family members. All three sisters and their mother and father were a part of the band. The father also hired a man named, Ken as the drummer. At the time the band was formed, Barbara was 14-years-old and Ken was 21. Despite the age difference, they fell for each other. However, Barbara’s parents saw the age as a problem and forbid the two from seeing each other.

Louise’s Personality Wasn’t Real

All three of the Mandrell sisters were raised religious and their values were portrayed in their public personalities. However, after the show wrapped, Louise realized she was not being true to herself in the public eye. She said “I judged everything I did by what I thought Barbara and my family would like, not by my standards. But unless you accept yourself and like yourself, you can’t expect other people to accept you—that’s something Barbara kept preaching to me.”

Louise’s Sexier Image

After the variety show, Louise knew she had to start being true to herself. For her solo career, she started showing off a more sexy image. Her first album cover definitely portrayed her new image. Louise told People, “Miniskirts and tight leather pants are what I feel most comfortable in. I’m one of those Christians the Romans would have thrown to the lions.”

Irlene Is An Expert Archer

Irlene rose to prominence as a CoverGirl. However, you may not know it by her chosen recreational activities and hobbies. Irlene is an avid hunter and is proficient with several types of guns as well as a crossbow. She used her love for hunting and the outdoors and created the annual “Irlene Mandrell Celebrity Shoot”. The event helps raise money for various charities and involves celebrities shooting clays.

Barbara Rejected Many Of Ken’s Proposals

Barbara and Ken had an instant connection when they first met. Despite being forbidden from seeing each other, they two remained loyal even though they were separate. When they were able to reconnect, their love was as strong as ever. Ken quickly proposed…many times. Many times Barbara said no. She told CBN it was because she wanted to finish high school, before she got married. Eventually, she did say yes.

Controversial Hit Single

Country music is known for its emotional lyrics. Country music lyricists use events and struggles they encounter in the daily lives and add it to music. Songs normally convey themes of love. Barbara also sung about love and heartbreak, and is considered a pioneer by many in the country music industry. Her first hit “The Midnight Oil” actually portrayed almost too much truth for many people. It was first time a a woman sung about cheating on a man rather than the opposite.

First Record Label Almost Dropped Barbara

Columbia Records was the first label to sign Barbara. She worked for several years creating songs that were considered country-soul. She worked with the legendary producer Billy Sherrill. Sherill wrote a memoir called “How Nashville Became a Music City”. In the book, Sherill says Columbia executives constantly questioned him as to why he wanted to continue working with Barbara. Her albums were not selling well. However, after she switched her sound and label, that of course changed.

Barbara’s Net Worth Is 4x Larger Than Her Sister’s Combined

Barbara, Irlene, and Louise are all famous in their own right. However, Barbara is clearly is most successful in the music industry. She has released several platinum albums and hit singles. Although she has since retired, her net worth is still $45 million. Irlene and Louise’s combined net worth is $10 million. Therefore, Barbara’s net worth is actually over 4 times larger than her sisters’ combined.

Irlene Has Been Divorced Twice

Barbara Mandrell and her husband have one of the longest lasting marriages in the entertainment industry. Unfortunately, her sister Irlene has not had such good luck. She has been married 3 different times. She married her first husband in 1978, her second in 1994, and her most recent husband in 2015. She is currently still happily married to her third husband, Patrick Holt.

Barbara Named Her Home ‘A House Of Animals’

Barbara loves animals and owns several. She had so many animals that she named her home “Maison d’ Animaux”, which translated means “House of Animals”. When she decided to dub her home this name, she had 2 dogs, 4 cats and a cockatoo. This count does not include the animals that would live in her garden. In the summer, her garden would home birds, squirrels, chipmunks and turtles.

Barbara’s Son Overcame Alcoholism

The Mandrells have always been a tight-knit family. Barbara and Ken have 3 children together, 2 sons and 1 daughter. One of their sons, Kenneth (who normally goes by his middle name, Matthew), struggled with alcoholism for several years. However, he acknowledged his problem and sought out professional help. He overcame his addiction. He is now married to Christian recording artist, Christy Sutherland.

Louise’s Book Was Written To Defend Her Sister

Louise Mandrell wrote and published “The Mandrell Family Album”, in 1983. However, she didn’t always want to write a book, but was inspired by public rumors to do so. In an interview with UPI, Louise said “In my lifetime she’s [Barbara] the most perfect person I’ve met. I got tired of people making things up [about Barbara]. We made it because we worked hard, thought positively and stood up for what we believed in.”

Barbara:”I might not be very smart”

The saying goes “you are your own worst critic”. Barbara is no exception to this. Many would expect that Barbara is rather smart, as she has navigated her way to successful career in the entertainment industry. However, she does not feel as though she is the brains behind her success. She said “I might not be very smart, but I surround myself with smart people.”

Barbara Quit Music To Become A Housewife

Ken went to serve in the Vietnam War. When he returned he proposed to Barbara on several occasions. After agreeing to marry him, she thought it would be best to leave the music industry and just become a housewife. She wanted to really devote herself to her love that she had been separated from for so long. However, her “retirement” didn’t last long as she yearned for music. She quickly reversed her decision to keep singing.

Barbara Believed She Had Miscarried Her 3rd Child

Barbara and Ken decided to have their last and third child ten years after their second child, Jaime, was born. As Barbara was “older”, doctors kept a close watch on Barbara during her third pregnancy. There was one evening where Barbara knew something was wrong and thought she may have had miscarried her baby. She couldn’t get an ultrasound until the following morning. “We had to go all through the night thinking that our baby was dead,” she said. “When God showed him to us, he wasn’t dead, he was sucking his thumb. He is a miracle.”

Louise Has Had 4 Husbands

Louise and Barbara may have many traits in common. Unfortunately, a long lasting marriage is not one of them. Louise has been divorced 4 times. She married Ronald Shaw in 1971, Gary Lamar Buck in 1975, R.C. Bannon in 1979, and John Haywood in 1993. She is still currently married to Haywood. Despite the heartbreak, Barbara does not see it as a negative but rather another inspiration for her music.

Barbara’s Former Home Is Now A Museum

Barbara Mandrell and her husband Ken decided to build a home in White Creeks, Tennessee. They lived with their children, in the home, for many years. The house was partially designed by Barbara and Ken. It is considered the largest log home ever built with 20 rooms, 13 bathrooms and even an indoor pool. After the family moved out of the home, it was converted into a museum.

Peter Jennings: “Barbara Mandrell Was ‘Naughty’”

Dan Morgan was a stage manager for close to 50 years. He worked on various productions throughout the broadcasting industry. In 2015, he published his memoir called “Last Stage Manager Standing”. In the book, he discussed different stories he experienced while working. One of those stories involved Peter Jennings. Morgan wrote “I remember one time Peter had just gotten back from a trip somewhere. He was talking about how [singer] Barbara Mandrell was ‘naughty.’ He had a look like the Cheshire cat.”

Her Secret To A Long Marriage

Despite the fame and fortune, Barbara and Ken have been faithfully and happily married for over 50 years. That is an amazing feat for “normal” couples, but especially amazing to one whose had to be in the public eye. When asked what her secret was to a long marriage she said it was her faith in God. She said her marriage has been so strong “By our Heavenly Father and only because of God, only because of God. We’re like other couples. We do not get along perfectly; we do not go without arguments and, as I call them, fights, and heartache and pain and hurting each other.”

Barbara Is Considered A Musical Child Prodigy

Barbara Mandrell was able to pick up multiple instruments by the time she was 9-years-old. She was proficient in steel-pedal guitar. By the time she was 11-years-old, her talent began to be noticed by industry greats, specifically Joe Maphis. Maphis invited her to work with him on his show in Las Vegas. While working with Joe she met many others in the industry. By age 12, she was touring with Johnny Cash.

“Make It A Three-Way Marriage”


Barbara Mandrell lives in a three-way marriage. A three-way marriage meaning herself, her husband, and God. In an interview with the Boot, she said “My husband and I just told them [their son and future daughter-in-law] to pray together, to make it a three-way marriage: the two of them and God. There are times when Ken and I would like to put each other through a wall! [laughs] It happens, but we married for forever, and keeping God at the center of our lives has made it work and made it blessed and happy.”

First Artist To Two Win “Entertainer Of The Year” Twice

Barbara Mandrell was one of the first women to receive “Entertainer of the Year” in 1979. People were stunned when she won the award for a second time in 1981. However, people believed it was more than deserved as she had released several hit albums and was celebrating success from her variety show. She was the first artist to win the award twice and the only one to do so for more than 30 years. The only other artist to have done this is Taylor Swift.

Dolly Parton Said Barbara Is A Star

Dolly Parton and Barbara Mandrell are very similar. They rose to country fame around the same time and they are only a few years apart in age. However, there was never any animosity between the two, but rather just the opposite. They are very close friends and Dolly even spoke at Barbara’s Hall of Fame induction ceremony. Dolly said “We’re all proud of you. When god made the universe he put most of the stars in the heavens, but he did leave a few here on earth like you to guide us along the way.”

Patsy Cline Called Barbara A “Blonde Doll”

Barbara was only a child when she caught the attention of industry great, Patsy Cline. Cline invited Barbara to tour with her. Cline saw great potential in Barbara. She once described Barbara as “a 13-year-old blonde doll who plays the steel guitar out of this world!” Mandrell would later create a tribute to Cline with a medley of her songs.

Barbara Loves Gardening

Aside from singing and performing, Barbara has always loved the outdoors. However, she couldn’t fully embrace her passion until she retired in 1997. Today, she now spends an upwards of 10 hours in her garden a day. She has become such an expert that she even created the floral arrangements for her son’s wedding, with flowers she grew. She also enjoys paintings and making mosaics.

Autobiography Turned Into A Movie

Barbara published an autobiography, in 1990, called “Get to the Heart” My Story”. The book quickly became a New York Times bestseller and it remained there for 3 months. CBS decided to make the book in a TV movie. The movie starred Maureen McCormick as Barbara. Barbara’s daughter was even casted in the film and she played Barbara’s sister, Irlene. The TV movie had very high ratings.

Barbara Got Advice From The Greats

Barbara recognizes that she was very lucky to be able to work with such legendary musicians from such a young age. In an interview with CMT, she said “I would go back to Las Vegas when school would allow — summertime, Christmas holidays. Still, I was working with Red Foley, Tex Ritter, Jimmy Dickens and all of them. Because I was a child, they were so wonderful to give me such great advice, so all of them were my inspiration.”

Barbara’s Most Important Inspiration

As a child, Barbara received advice from any different musicians. However, there was one musician she believes helped her the most – Normal Hamlet. “Norman Hamlet, the bandleader and steel guitarist for Merle Haggard for more than 30 years. He taught me the steel guitar, and I actually started as a musician playing the steel guitar and saxophone on my first job,” Barbara said in an interview. “Then shortly thereafter, I don’t remember who it was, maybe it was Uncle Joe Maphis, I don’t remember, but they said, ‘Can you sing?’ And I said, ‘Well, OK.'”

Barbara Plays Seven Instruments

By the time Barbara was a pre-teen, she was considered a master of the steel guitar. It was clear to many that she was musically minded. Therefore, she quickly was showed other instruments. Today, she says she is fully proficient in the steel guitar, alto saxophone, dobro, five-string banjo and bass. However, if it is needed, she can also play the guitar and mandolin relatively well.

Barbara Appreciates Reality TV

She may not be a fan of all reality TV. However, she is a fan of singing competition reality TV such as “American Idol”. When asked her opinion about the show, she said “I think it’s terrific. I think it’s very needed. I think without those it would be impossible for so many gifted people to have any place to be discovered. I think it’s wonderful.” Country music star, Carrie Underwood, is the product of the show.

Barbara Likes Julianne Hough

Julianne Hough rose to popularity as a regular cast member on the “Dancing with the Stars” from 2007-2009. She more recently has been seen on the show as judge. However, her popularity from dancing has allowed her to jump into different realms of the entertainment world. She has dabbled in both singing and acting. Barbara is actually a fan of Julianne’s, despite never meeting her. “A new artist, who I adore is Julianne Hough from ‘Dancing With the Stars’ — wow, she’s a slammin’ dancer and a great singer,” Barbara told the Boot. “I’ve never met her, but she also seems to be so sweet.”

Barbara’s 9/11 Crash

September 11th, of course, is an infamous date. However, its been a traumatic date for Barbara since 1984. On that date, Barbara and two of her children were hit head on by a teen driver. Barbara suffered several broken bones and she even had to undergo surgery. Her children were treated for minor injuries. Sadly, the teen driver was killed in the crash. The accident would forever impact her life.

Accident Had A Negative Effect On Her Career

Barbara Mandrell had to deal with the mental and physical trauma from her accident. Part of that process was getting money from her insurance company to pay for all the bills. In order to do so, she had to file a suit against her insurance, as well as sue the teen driver’s family. Mandrell said this was just a formality. Her lawyer advised her to do so, as the family owned the vehicle and it was necessary in the eyes of the insurance company. Sadly, many fans didn’t see it as a formality but rather a distasteful decision.

Accident Led To A Change In Personality

Physically, Barbara suffered from a lot of trauma. However, it was the mental changes that really scared Barbara. She believes she suffered a head injury that led to a change in personality. “I would refer to myself in the third person: ‘That was her’ or ‘She did that’ or ‘You should have asked her. I can’t do that,'” she said in an interview with CBN. The brain injury also left her with lots of confusion and random bouts of rage.

A Long Recovery

Barbara suffered many physical ailments from her accident. Her ankle break was so unique that it is actually in recorded medical history. She reported that there were “were only 50 broken ankles” like hers. She told CMT, “I went to work about 18 months after, but my head injury was actually three years in the healing. …I had five ankle breaks, five breaks down inside my ankle. And 10 orthopedic surgeons met to figure out what to do about my ankle.”

Barbara Misses The Spotlight The Most

When one retires from being a world renowned musician, one can imagine the many things one would miss: the fans, the costume, or even the money. However, Barbara yearns for something else. She misses the spotlights. Not metaphorically, being in the spot light, but the literally warmth of the spotlights. When asked what she missed the most, she said “The lights! I miss the spotlights…I love the feeling of lights.”

Favorite Memory Of ‘Barbara Mandrell and the Mandrell Sisters’

Despite that “Barbara Mandrell and the Mandrell Sisters” was only on-air for two seasons, Barbara said there was lots she did that she loved. Along with the loads of special guests the sisters hosted, there was one element that she thinks back on with a smile. She told CMT, “My favorite memory is working with Louise and Irlene. That’s the only time the three of us have worked together.”

Trouble On The Set ‘Barbara Mandrell and the Mandrell Sisters’

When Louise Mandrell was just a teenager, she hoped to find a fairytale love. She fell in love with Ronald Shaw. They married in 1973. She thought her marriage would be perfect. However, she discovered this was not the case. Soon after the marriage began, the two began constantly fighting. Louise worked hard to fix the marriage, until she discovered Ronald was already in love with someone else. Louise became the first woman in the family to get a divorce. Unfortunately, for Louise she had to relive the pain when Ronald became the musical director of the the sisters variety show.

The Reason ‘Barbara Mandrell and the Mandrell Sisters’ Was Taken Off-Air

“Barbara Mandrell and the Mandrell Sisters” premiered in 1980 and quickly captivated millions of fans across the U.S.. At its peak, 40 million people were tuning in to watch the sisters and their special guests perform. Sadly, the show was taken off-air after only 2 seasons. This left many fans confused. However, it wasn’t the network that pulled the show, but rather Barbara. Barbara was touring, along with filming the show. All the performing caused a vocal strain. Her doctor advised her to stop the show.

Barbara No Longer Publicly Performs

After Barbara retired in 1997, she knew she would no longer be performing. During an interview with the Boot, she explained that she got rid of all temptation. “Except for my steel guitar that’s in the Hall of Fame and my dobro that my parents gave me and had engraved, I sold everything else after I retired,” Barbara said. “I just don’t want any temptation!…The only place I sing is on the pew with everybody else in church.”


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