By John Skipper
It is like a Hollywood movie script unto itself that four girls from a small town in Iowa would grow up to be stars of stage and screen, co-starring with such icons as Jack Benny, James Cagney, Cary Grant and Dick Powell.
But that is exactly what happened with the Lane sisters, daughters of a dentist in Indianola, who became famous from the 1920s to the 1940s.
There were some name changes along the way, some hurt feelings as often happens in show business and some of them stayed with it longer than others. But when they were hot, they were sizzling.
The Lane sisters were actually the Mullican sisters, daughters of Dr. Lorenzo Mullican and his wife, Cora Bell Mullican. There was Leotabel, known as “Leota,” the oldest, born in 1903; Dorothy, known as “Lola,” born in 1906; Rosemary, born in 1913; and Priscilla, the youngest, born in 1915. A fifth daughter, Martha, did not go into show business.
The first three daughters were born in Macy, Ind. The family moved to Indianola in 1907 where Dr. Mullican took up his dental practice and Cora Bell Mullican began encouraging her girls to sing and play musical instruments, something that was frowned upon in the household she grew up in.