Jimmy Dean, country music legend, dies at 81

Jimmy Dean, the country music icon and famous sausage entrepreneur, died in his home in Henrico County, Virginia, on Sunday at the age of 81, the Associated Press reports. Dean’s wife, Donna Meade Dean, told the AP that her husband had suffered some health problems, but nothing that indicated he was near death. He was eating in front of the television this evening, and his wife left the room. When she returned, he was unresponsive. She told the AP that he was pronounced dead at 7:54 p.m.

Dean’s biggest country music hit was “Big Bad John,” a 1961 classic about a coal miner who saves his co-workers when the mine collapses, and it earned Dean a Grammy award.

The singer, who was born in 1928 in Plainview, Texas, grew up to have his own television show, first on CBS and then on ABC in the 1960s. In 1969 he founded The Jimmy Dean Meat Co., and for many years served as the folksy voice and friendly face of Jimmy Dean sausage in national television commercials. He sold his company to Sara Lee in 1984. In 2003 he  got into a public battle with the company when it fired him as the brand’s spokesman.

Last year, a fire destroyed Dean’s home on his 200-acre estate outside Richmond. He and his wife had only recently moved back into their rebuilt house. His wife told the AP that he liked boating and watching the sun set over the James River.

Dean had just been inducted into the Country Music Hall of Fame this February. He is survived by his wife, three children, and two grandchildren. Dean’s wife said the memorial service would be private.

Comments (49 total) Add your comment
Page: 1 2
  • Kat

    It’s a shame when anyone dies, of course, but I’m a little extra saddened by this one. My mom always refused to use any store-bought sausage other than Jimmy Dean! And I believe he wrote a potential song to replace the old Virginia state song (which has been retired due to some rather unfortunately outdated – also known as racist – lyrics, despite being an otherwise beautiful tune) and my high school chorus performed it at a concert that he came to. Anyways, peace to Mr. Dean and his family.

    • Brenda Barrett

      Hey EW, Dean was NOT inducted into the Country Music Hall of Fame; it was announced in Feb. that he WILL be inducted this October. Also, I agree with others that note that he made his fortune murdering sentient beings.

      • Alan

        ..to Brenda Barrett; Jimmy Dean never murdered anybody or anything. All He did was kill and butcher up some mighty fine tasting swine. Yum!, Yum!.
        Rest In Peace Jimmy, there are millions of us who Luv You :)

      • Don

        Jimmy Dean????????????

      • Ali

        This Standen fellow comes acrsos as arogant and a self righteous So and So.He seems to be caught with his pants down and his fingers in the till.I have no qualms about him loosing his job and pension, but it must be mentioned that hes done far more good than bad over the years.If we convict every one who fell in love with a woman half his age and then got into financial difficulty by having a mid life crisis, then the prisons would be over flowing.Lets stick to the evidence he may or may not been up to no good,but just what he was up to is far from clear.You cant send some one to prison for 20 years because you think that they were up to something!You should not convict someone simply because he or she has been unfaithful.I looked at Mr Standen when his ex girlfriend was giving evidence the way she flicked he hair enjoying the attention, telling the court about all the trophies he had bought her,designer bags,diamond rings,bracelets etc etc.He must of felt a fool!for a moment Standen looked hurt just like a child who is unexpectedly smacked for no reason, he realised he was being looked at and soon recovered and pretendended to be untroubled and even slightly amused.That solitary moment explained a lot to me,hes got him self in this whole mess by bigging him self up and trying to live a lie.I dont believe he was involved in any attempt to import drugs or what ever that substance is that the Federal Police claim.When they found no drugs and realised what a fiasco this is when they should of just booted him out on his arse and left it at that.Years of man power to bring these charges is a disgraceful waste of millions of tax payers dollars.I sat through through a full day once, usually a couple of hours are my limit.I hear that the trial has cost $1,000,000 a day if so thats about $153m to date.Cant be true can it?If so I do think that somebody should get 20 years.The Bloody fools who bought this to the Courts, as for Standen, hes already a broken man,he has no job,no family,no prospects so just let sleeping dogs lye.

  • LeeT

    We often saw Mr. Dean and his wife while catching planes at Richmond Airport, and one time I just walked up to him and said how much I’d always loved his music, and I had just been listening to his Christmas album, he was very gracious in his response, and I believe he enjoyed knowing that folks still listen to his music, and that he had some of the finest traits of the American character. We send our condolences to Mrs. Dean he was a treasure.

  • Briana

    I fill bad that he passed away its
    Always :( when someone passes away I
    Pray for the family and friends that he
    Left behind

    • donknottz

      So do you feel for the millions of smarter than your dog sentient beings he helped torture and kill?

      • Conundrum

        mm,mm, love that pork!

      • donknottz

        and it loves giving you heart disease clogged artiries and cancer in numerous forms, enjoy

  • Tom Bobier

    I grew up listening to him and his band on T V, and saw him and his band 3 times in person.
    Jimmy, you will be missed by a lot of us..God bless to your wife

  • Betty Sue Mills

    I saw Jimmy Dean many times at Wayson’s Corner in Maryland. He was once friends of mine in MD…they housed and fed him when he was on his way up, but he never recognized them when he got up there..I talked to him about that when he was at Wayson’s Corners, but he just shrugged it off. I lost resprect for him then. May God bless you Jimmy and not shrug you off.

    • Melissa

      @Betty Sue Mills….have u heard That saying, if u don’t have anything nice to say, don’t say it at all! The man has passed away, why would u say something like that? RIP JIMMY DEAN!!!

      • D. Grant Haynes

        Indeed, it is highly inappropriate to write such a petty and hateful thing about a man the day of his passing.

    • Star

      Wow…………..Betty Sue,

      WHY – in the throes of a soul entering into another world, leaving behind so many family/friends/fans grieving @ his loss, would you reduce yourself to the nasty, pathetic, comments you feel the need to spew.

  • D. Grant Haynes

    Though a vegetarian, I felt some connection with Jimmy Dean because I lived in Plainview, Texas, for some years. Let us all remember at this time that death is not the opposite of life, but, rather, of birth. Jimmy Dean is okay tonight.

    • Jules

      The dog was named Rowlf. He as the first Muppet to be a regular on a TV show.

    • Jules

      sorry, meant that for the guy below.



    • Jules

      The dog was named Rowlf. He was the first Muppet to be a regular on a TV show.

  • Chas

    @Barry Richard:

    Yes, The Jimmy Dean Show featured Rowlf, a piano-playing dog. Rowlf was the first of Jim Henson’s Muppets to regularly appear on a TV show. He first appeared in some Purina commercials, then on The Jimmy Dean Show, and then about 10 years later on The Muppet Show.

    • Star

      @ Barry Richard & Chas,
      I never caught the Rowlf. My memories of his contribution was to Fess Parker’s ‘Daniel Boone Show’ a favorite show of mine, and my father playing the record w/his song “BIG BAD JOHN”, on lazy Sunday afternoons. Which brings back wonderful childhood memories. May BOTH of them R.I.P.

  • Walter

    Sad to hear of Jimmy Dean passing away, but Heaven will be happier with his music. I have heard him on radio here in Hong Kong, and I remember seeing him on TV back in 1950s out of Washington. My favorite song was “Bumming Around” and “The First Thing Ev’ry Morning (And the Last Thing Ev’ry Night)”.
    Goodbye Jimmy, Goodbye!

  • donknottz

    On Behalf of Miss Piggy I say Woo Who! Go Vegan.

    • donknottz

      You’re right only dead humans matter not the ten billion animals slaughtered in the U.S. every year for nothing more than the self indulgence of its selfish greed ridden population.

      • Geez

        That’s correct,loser donknottz. Pigs are to eat. Sit down and eat your sausage.

      • Motormouth

        You must not have anybody that was a farmer in your family or you wouldnt be talking trash about slaughtering animals for someones own selfish greed ridden population.
        My great grandfather, grandfather{13 kids} and all my moms brothers raised chickens,cows,turkeys,hogs pigs and grew their own veggies to have food to feed their families. This is what was done in the late 1800’s-1985. This was the last year my mom and I went backed to Tenn. before my mom died. And the food I ate there was the best home cooked meal I ever ate. Everything was raised on the farm includeing everything the animals ate.

      • Star

        I am a 20+ year Vegan, but absoluely opposed to the Peta ‘militant’ organization. I choose my individual lifestyle and find allowance/tolerance with others belief.

        Mr. ‘Dumb donknottz’, did not come to this site to offer compassion or condolence, rather, negatively engage.
        My advice: DNFTMT – Do Not Feed The Moronic Troll –
        May Jimmie Dean find peace and his family find comfort.

      • Magic

        I wonder if you feel the same way about all the aborted babies in the country?

      • Star

        Non-applicable to this site -HELLO!

        DNFTMT !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

        May Jimmie Dean find peace and his family find comfort!

      • Frankie

        Why, are you one of them?

  • RustyBlue

    Great singer. Loved FIRST THING, EVERY MORNING & THE LAST THING EVERY NIGHT. BTW…what is with all the PETA freaks? They have no manners along with being stupid. What a pitiful bunch of creeps.

  • Kim

    My mom and aunt grew up and went to high school with Jimmy Dean in Plainview, Texas. That was their closest claim to rubbing shoulders with someone famous, so we kids and cousins watched his career with some interest. It’s sad to hear of his passing, but I bet the reunion in Heaven has made my mother and aunt smile!

  • Jay Steven

    I was saddened by this, mostly for my mom’s sake. My brother and I took her for a birthday dinner years ago, at a restaurant in Boca Raton, FL. Mr. Dean just happened to be there that evening to have dinner, though we did not know this at the time. Not wanting to attract attention, my brother and I quietly and quickly sang happy birthday to my mother when the desert came out. Well, Mr. Dean was going to have NONE OF THAT! He sauntered over to our table and said, “That was the most piss-poor happy birthday I’ve ever heard!” He then knelt down next to my mother, put his arm around her and sang her the most wonderful happy birthday possible. I still have the photo of that moment – and I know my mother will always treasure his kindness and grace. Godspeed Jimmy Dean!

  • LaRue

    Jimmy Dean was a great man, American legend, super star country singer & clean. Can’t believe he was not on the national news this date. Current media only promotes rejects & undesirables, what a shame. Jimmy Dean a true natural born loyal dedicated American will be missed.

  • Rebecca Dean

    You will be missed Uncle Jimmy! Prayers and thoughts to the whole family.

    • Irma Cash

      Jimmy was a kind and very nice gentleman. His wife Donna and I and my sister were friends long before she met Jimmy. When Donna met and married Jimmy, we never tried to push ourselves into their lives. Rest in peace Jimmy. You were the best, and thank you, Donna, for taking such good care of Jimmy. God bless and be with you Donna, and all of Jimmys family during the trying time ahead, of saying good bye.

Page: 1 2
Add your comment
The rules: Keep it clean, and stay on the subject - or we may delete your comment. If you see inappropriate language, e-mail us. An asterisk (*) indicates a required field.

When you click on the "Post Comment" button above to submit your comments, you are indicating your acceptance of and are agreeing to the Terms of Service. You can also read our Privacy Policy.

Latest Videos


From Our Partners

TV Recaps

Powered by WordPress.com VIP