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Sunday Morning Country Classic Spotlight to Feature Jimmy Dean

Jimmy Dean

Join me Sunday morning at 11 a.m. for the Country Classic Spotlight.  This week we are featuring Jimmy Dean.  The Country Classic Show kicks off at 9 a.m.

Jimmy Dean was born in Plainview, Texas on August 10, 1928.  His charm and good looks epitomized the country star in the 1950’s on TV.  He had a string of hit records in the 1960’s; his biggest success was a television personality.

After his discharge from the Air Force in 1948, he formed his group the “Texas Wildcats” and appeared on WARL radio and WMAL TV in Washington D.C.  He found a recording niche as a reciter of dramatic narrative with his pop hit in 1961, a song he wrote, Big Bad John. The song hit number one on both pop and country charts, and won him a Grammy in 1962.

Jimmy had several more crossover hits in 1962, The Cajun Queen, To A Sleeping Beauty, Little Black Book and PT 109, which rode the wave of popularity of President John F. Kennedy, all about Kennedy’s wartime exploits.

He made his feature film debut in the 1971 James Bond film “Diamonds are Forever.”    Dean was a popular guest host for Johnny Carson, Merv Griffin, and Mike Douglas.

In 1969 he formed the Jimmy Dean sausage company with his brother Don.  The company’s success led to its acquisition in 1984 by Consolidated Foods which later became the Sara Lee Corporation.  He was soon phased out of any management duties.

In the fall of 2004, he released his autobiography, “30 Years of Sausage, 50 Years of Ham.”  Dean lived in semi-retirement with his second wife, Donna Meade-Dean, a singer, songwriter and recording artist he married in 1991.  The couple lived on the outskirts of Richmond, Virginia.

He has three children and two granddaughters.  Jimmy died at the age of 81 on June 13, 2010.  He was entombed in a mausoleum on the grounds of his estate.  His epitaph reads, Here Lies One Hell of a Man.

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