Main | Monday, June 14, 2010

Sausage King Jimmy Dean Dead At 81

Country music star, Grammy winner, and Christian activist Jimmy Dean, who gained his greatest fame as the advertising pitchman for his own line of sausages, died yesterday at the age of 81.
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 p.m. "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.
Sara Lee fired Dean as the brand's pitchman in 2003. In 2008 he donated $1M to Wayland Baptist University. Dean will be inducted into the Country Music Hall of Fame later this year. Here's his big hit from 1961, which topped the pop chart for five weeks.

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