BY JAY LEVIN
Friday, October 18, 2013
Virginia Lutke, who as Ginger Dinning performed with her sisters in the 1940s harmony trio the Dinning Sisters, died Monday at a nursing home in Oakland.
Mrs. Lutke, who lived in northern New Jersey, including Ridgewood, for much of her married life, was 89.
The Dinning Sisters — Ginger and her identical twin Jean, and an older sister, Lou — were similar in style to the Andrews Sisters, and the groups' careers overlapped.
Farm girls from Oklahoma, Ginger, Jean and Lou signed their first commercial contract in 1940 to sing on the NBC radio network. They were staples on "National Barn Dance," a country-music program broadcast from Chicago, and signed with Capitol Records. In 1948, the Dinning Sisters had a top-10 hit with "Buttons and Bows"; the song achieved greater popularity that year when Bob Hope sang it in his movie, "The Paleface." The sisters did not appear in the movie, but they were featured in several Westerns just after World War II.
During their career, Ginger, Jean and Lou were chaperoned by an older brother. There were nine Dinning siblings in all.
The act ended in the late 1940s when the sisters began to marry. Ginger and her husband, Harry Lutke, settled in New Jersey. Harry Lutke had a construction contracting business and Virginia Lutke was busy raising their seven children. She occasionally performed in plays mounted on the stage at Ridgewood High School and sang in a barbershop quartet but was mostly out of show business, said her youngest child, Kevin Lutke.
Kevin said his mother was humble about her days with the Dinning Sisters and left it to her son, Buddy, who died in 1994, to collect Dinning Sisters memorabilia.
Lou Dinning died in 2000. Jean Dinning, who wrote the young-love tragedy song "Teen Angel" in 1959, died in 2011.
Mrs. Lutke is survived by her husband, of Oakland, and their children: Gary Lutke of Lake Lure, N.C., Steven Lutke of Highland Lakes, Janice Lutke of Oakland, Mark Lutke of West End, N.C., and Joan Hillman and Kevin Lutke, both of West Milford. She also is survived by a sister, Dolores Edgin, of Nashville.
Visiting will be Monday from 2 to 4 and 7 to 9 p.m., with a service at 8, at C.C. Van Emburgh Funeral Home, Ridgewood.
DINNING, Ginger (Virginia Dinning)
Born: 3/29/1924, Enid, Oklahoma, U.S.A.
Died: 10/14/2013, Oakland, New Jersey U.S.A.
Ginger Dinning’s westerns – actress, singer:
Throw a Saddle on a Star – 1946 (member of the Dinning Sisters)
That Texas Jamboree – 1946 (member of singing trio)