Actor-singer-turned-sausage-mogul Jimmy Dean passed away Sunday at 81 in his home in Virginia. Based on the description in the obit I read on Yahoo! earlier this morning, it sounded like he'd suffered a sudden heart attack while eating dinner.
The Yahoo! article referenced his 2 self-titled series in the 60's, the 2nd of which, a variety show, introduced audiences to Rowlf, the canine Muppet created by Jim Henson, who'd later resurface on----where else?----The Muppet Show a decade later. What it doesn't tell us is Dean's later stint as Josh Clements on Daniel Boone toward the end of that series' run.
In 1969, Dean launched his namesake line of sausage products, which is now a part of the Sara Lee Company. Sara Lee infamously dropped Dean as a spokesman for his own products just a few years ago, citing---naturally---a need to attract younger customers to their product. Dean didn't take too kindly to that.
As a singer, Dean's best known hits were his tale of John F. Kennedy's heroic adventure aboard "PT 109" and the ballad of "Big Bad John", which won him a Grammy. "John" was more spoken-word than singing, in truth, but the tale of a Louisana coal miner who gave his life for his co-workers was a country classic.
Dean's passing marks the 3rd of the Boone cast in the last few months, following Fess Parker & Dallas McKennon.
Rest in peace, Jimmy. You'll be missed.