Jimmy Dean Museum

Most people know Jimmy Dean for his famous brand of sausage, but did you know that he was also a country music star, an entertainer, and a well-versed businessman. The town of Plainview, TX has a museum dedicated to the sausage mogul and entertainer. He was born in Olton, TX, a town only 25 miles west of Plainview, and his family relocated to Plainview when he was young. He came from a family that had little. His mother would do small jobs for people around town to get by. During his childhood at the age of 10, Jimmy’s mother Ruth had taught him how to play the piano. Dean gives credit to the Seth Ward Baptist Church for inspiring his passion for music. After serving time in the United States Airforce in which he dropped out of high school to attend, Dean became an entertainer.

Jimmy Dean got married in 1950 to a woman named Mary Sue. This was at the start of his entertainment career and in 1953, he would go on to release his first hit, “Bumming Around.” A year later, the country singer hosted a radio program called “Town and Country Time.” Alongside Dean, Patsy Cline and Roy Clark started out their music careers by being on the show, however Clark was replaced by Billy Grammer due to his “chronic tardiness.” Signing with Columbia Records in 1957, Dean hosted the “Country Style” TV show. This show was eventually picked up by CBS and broadcasted it nationally by the name of “The Morning Show.”

For about a year starting in 1958, “The Jimmy Dean Show” ran on ABC during prime time television. Guests such as Jaye P. Morgan and Hans Conried appeared on the show that lasted until June. This was formerly Dean’s TV show “Country Style” which had expanded to a National prime time television show. It lasted for 30 minutes and broadcasted from Washington DC. Big stars such as Johnny Cash appeared on the show and it later became a full hour special. It appeared weekly for three seasons from 1963 to 1966 and hosted Hank Williams Jr. when he was only 14 years old where he sang the songs of his legendary father Hank Williams. Dean also had a muppet that acted as his sidekick on the show named Rowlf the Dog. This muppet was the first of Jim Henson’s creations to have a regularly occurring role on a television show. He starred in 85 out of the 86 episodes and was introduced as “Dean’s ol’ Buddy” each time.

Jimmy Dean opened his famous sausage company with his brother Don in 1969. It was successful in part due to the funny commercials that were used to advertise. He was living in Virginia in 1990 and was inducted into the Virginia Country Music Hall of Fame in 1997. Although in seemingly good health, Dean passed away in a rather quick fashion while eating in 2010. The museum subsequently was opened in 2014 on the Wayland Baptist University campus. If you are interested in learning more about Dean and visiting the museum, it is open from 10:00 am to 4:00 pm Tuesday through Friday.

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