Sausage Link

Yankee Pot Roast ponders: At what point does one take a step back to reflect upon a successful career in television and music, finally concluding, "I've done all I can here. It's time for me to pursue my true passion: Sausage." ?

goldchub
[ Courtesy Jimmy Dean.com ]

Born into poverty on a farm in Plainview, Texas, in 1928, Jimmy Dean was raised by his mother who started him on a musical path when she taught him to play piano at age 10. He went on to learn the guitar, harmonica and accordion. At 18, Dean joined the U.S. Air Force, where he passed his free time singing songs, telling tall Texas tales and getting lots of laughs. It was during that time he decided to become an entertainer.

After leaving the Air Force in 1948, he put together a band, the Texas Wildcats, who became a sensation on station WARL in Arlington, Virginia. He soon was broadcasting ten hours a week. In 1952, Jimmy toured the U.S. bases in the Caribbean, and that same year recorded his first single for Four-Star Records, "Bumming Around." The song soared to No. 5 on the country charts the following year and sold more than 700,000 copies. But by then, television was the medium to be in, and Dean landed a spot on the "Town and Country Time" show broadcast on Washington ABC affiliate WMAL-TV. The three-hour show was broadcast every Saturday from the Capital Arena in Washington. Dean was hired away from ABC by Washington's CBS affiliate to host a live country show, and in 1957, he moved to New York to do a CBS national live morning country show.

While CBS kept him busy with two live telecasts a day, Dean pursued a recording career. He signed with Columbia records in 1957 and told them that as a country star, he wanted to record in the country music capital of the world- Nashville. That decision proved fortuitous when, on one of many trips from New York to Nashville, he wrote a song on a piece of cardboard that was destined to become a worldwide sensation- "Big Bad John". The song, released in 1962, sold more than eight million copies, making it the number one song in the world and creating a superstar in the process. He followed up with five more top 40 hits in 1962: "Dear Ivan", "The Cajun Queen", "To a Sleeping Beauty", "PT109" and "Little Black Book".

The following year, Dean returned to ABC with "The Jimmy Dean Show", which aired Thursday nights from 1963 to 1966. Dean used his show to give many country talents their first national break, including Roy Clark, Roger Miller and Patsy Cline, earning the nickname, "The Dean of Country Music".

Next Dean tried his hand at acting with a guest role on an episode of the hit TV series "Daniel Boone". The appearance struck a chord with viewers and won him a regular role from 1967 to 1970 as Josh Clements, Boone's friend. Other acting roles followed, and in 1971 Dean made his feature film debut in the James Bond classic Diamonds are Forever.

Meanwhile, his TV and music careers continued to flourish. he was a popular co-host or guest host for Johnny Carson, Merv Griffin, Mike Douglas, Dinah Shore and Joey Bishop. He also began recording for RCA, hitting the top of the charts with "Stand Beside Me", "A Thing Called Love", "Born to Be By Your Side", and "A Hammer and Nails". In 1976, "I.O.U." became on of the fastest breaking records in the history of the industry and was certified Gold after just 13 days.

Dean also made history as the first country performer ever to play Las Vegas. He also graced the stages in Reno, Lake Tahoe, the Hollywood bowl, Carnegie hall, the London Palladium, and everywhere in between. All along, knowing that fame could be fleeting, Dean had invested his money in a business he know about from childhood- hog farming. He founded the Jimmy Dean Meat Company in 1968 and began making the sausage that has made him a household name for new generations of American.s

In 1984, The Jimmy Dean Meat company became a subdivision of international food and consumer products company Sara Lee corporation, which has annual revenues of 20 billion dollars. In 1991, Sara Lee changes the name of the company to Jimmy Dean Foods, where Dean continues as chairman of the Board and corporate spokesperson.

Today, Dean remains active in the country western music industry, hosting awards shows, writing songs and participating in fund raising efforts for various Nashville charities. As a Virginia resident since 1990, he was inducted into the Virginia Country Music Hall of Fame in 1997. Virginia Governor Jim Gilmore recently appointed Dean to the Virginia Board of Game and Inland Fisheries, which oversees the state's wildlife efforts and regulates the boating laws. Jimmy Dean married Donna Meade, a singer, songwriter and recording artist, in 1991. Jimmy and Donna live on the James River in Henrico County and regularly make appearances on behalf of civic and charitable organizations in the Richmond area.

Donna Meade and husband Jimmy Dean

Beginning with an investment in hog farming, Jimmy created the Jimmy Dean Meat Company in 1969, which has since become on the America's leading suppliers of sausage and meat products. In June 1984, the Jimmy Dean Meat Company, "America's favorite sausage", became a division of Sara Lee Corporation, an international food and consumer products company with annual sales in excess of $20 billion. In 1991, Sara Lee changed the name of the company to Jimmy Dean Foods. Dean continues as Chairman of the Board and corporate spokesperson for his namesake company.

Dean's aim in business is the same in entertaining: "Appeal to the people with quality and honesty, you'll win their confidence. Maintain quality and honesty, and you'll keep it."

The advertising approach is a twofold sell: The first sell is made by Jimmy Dean's low-key approach with himself as the spokesman, while the second sell is the fine quality of the Jimmy Dean product line. The sales figures over the years testify to the quality of the product as well as the soundness of the business philosophy.

Backed by the security of a thriving business, Dean is free to choose the projects in which he wishes to be involved. He continues to make charitable and civic appearances around the country and appears on numerous television specials. He was a member of the National Advisory Council for Reading Is Fundamental (RIF), and was master-of-ceremonies at a White House RIF event in 1989, hosted by former First Lady Barbara Bush.

Remaining active in the country western music industry, in 1990, Jimmy and Barbara Mandrell co-hosted the Music City News---The Nashville Network Awards for Country Music, broadcast live across the U.S. The following year he co-hosted TNN-Songwriter of the Year Awards at the Grand Ole Opry. In 1994, Jimmy received the Master Achievement Award from the Reunion of Professional Entertainers at a gala event banquet in Nashville. Jimmy regularly participated in fund raising efforts for various Nashville charities.

Jimmy Dean is married to Donna Meade, a country western recording artist. They maintain homes in Virginia and Texas.

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