Jimmy Dean, country singer and sausage entrepreneur, died on Sunday, June 13, 2010 at 7:54 PM. According to his wife, Donna Meade Dean, he had suffered some health problems, but nothing indicated he was near death. He died at his home in Henrico County, Virginia at the age of 81.
Dean is best remembered in country music for his Grammy winning hit “Big Bad John” from 1961. “Big Bad John,” a song about a coal miner who saves his fellow workers when a mine roof collapses, took him only two hours to write and established his skill for spoken narrative songs.
This fame led to his own string of television shows, including the nationally televised variety show The Jimmy Dean Show which featured guests like Arthur Miller and Jim Hensen. He also acted in movies, like his part of reclusive billionaire Willard Whyte in the James Bond film Diamonds are Forever (1971).
In 1969, Dean went into the sausage business, starting the Jimmy Dean Meat Company, which came to be his main focus over entertainment. In 1984, he sold the company to Sara Lee Corp. where he remained spokesman until 2003 when the company claimed they were going in a different marketing direction.
In February, Dean was elected to the Country Music Hall of Fame. He was to be inducted in October.
Dean is survived by his wife, three children, and two grandchildren.