Country Singer, Sausage Man Jimmy Dean Dies at 81
By PopEater / Wire Services Posted Jun 14th 2010 07:10AM
His wife, Donna Meade Dean, said her husband died at their Henrico County, Va., home.
She told The Associated Press that he had some health problems but was still functioning well, so his death came as a shock. She said he was eating in front of the television. She left the room for a time and came back and he was unresponsive. She said he was pronounced dead at 7:54 PM.
"He was amazing," she said. "He had a lot of talents."
Born in 1928, Dean was raised in poverty in Plainview, Texas, and dropped out of high school after the ninth grade. He went on to a successful entertainment career in the 1950s and '60s that included the nationally televised 'The Jimmy Dean Show.'
In 1969, Dean went into the sausage business, starting the Jimmy Dean Meat Co. in his hometown. He sold the company to Sara Lee Corp. in 1984.
Dean lived in semi-retirement with his wife, who is a songwriter and recording artist, on their 200-acre estate just outside Richmond, where he enjoyed investing, boating and watching the sun set over the James River.
In 2009, a fire gutted their home, but his Grammy for 'Big Bad John,' a puppet made by Muppets creator Jim Henson, a clock that had belonged to Prince Charles and Princess Diana and other valuables were saved. Lost were a collection of celebrity-autographed books, posters of Dean with Elvis Presley and other prized possessions.
Donna Meade Dean said the couple had just moved back into their reconstructed home.
With his drawled wisecracks and quick wit, Dean charmed many fans. But in both entertainment and business circles, he was also known for his tough hide. He fired bandmate Roy Clark, who went onto 'Hee Haw' fame, for showing up late for gigs.
2009 AOL LLC. All Rights Reserved. Copyright 2009 The Associated Press. The information contained in the AP news report may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or otherwise distributed without the prior written authority of The Associated Press. Active hyperlinks have been inserted by AOL.
Recently Departed Celebrities
Rue McClanahan, June 3: Known to most as the sassy and free-spirited Blanche Devereaux on 'The Golden Girls,' McClanahan passed away after suffering a "massive stroke." She was 76 years old.
Joe Corrigan, Getty Images
Joe Corrigan, Getty Images
- Jennifer Aniston
- Paris Hilton
Kate Middleton is officially a princess. She walked the aisle in an Alexander...
According to Denise, she's not sure that her estranged ex is completely sober....
Popeater Hot Topics
- 'Hunger Games' scores year's biggest opening with $123M
- Bill Cosby controversy: A decade in the making
- Robin Williams' son remembers his dad and Christopher Reeve's friendship
- Cameron Diaz hosts ?Saturday Night Live' this weekend ? talk about it here!
- You can now buy the original ?Wizard of Oz' Cowardly Lion costume ? if you're a millionaire
- This Week on Stage: Hugh Jackman, Glenn Close and ?Side Show' storm Broadway's busiest fall week
- Mike Nichols' Death: Grieving Diane Sawyer Steps Out; Celebs Pay Respects
- ?SNL' Recap: Cameron Diaz Raps Like a ?Baller,' Bruno Mars Gets Funky and More!
- Stephen Amell and Grant Gustin Tease 'The Flash' and 'Arrow' Crossover Episodes