Jimmy Dean Dead at 81

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Jimmy Dean, a famed entertainer who went on to become a successful businessman, died last night (June 13) in Virginia at age 81. The cause of death was not immediately given, although Jimmy had been battling health problems for the past few years. Jimmy had recently been elected to the Country Music Hall of Fame and was set to receive his official welcome at the Medallion Ceremony this October in Nashville.

Born Aug. 10, 1928, in Plainview, Texas, Jimmy could truly be called one of the first "multimedia stars" in country music. He hosted his own CBS-TV series in 1957 and 1958, and went on to host a popular ABC-TV series The Jimmy Dean Show from 1963 to 1966. Jimmy introduced such stars as Roger Miller on the ABC show, which is often credited for giving much-needed national exposure to country music.

Jimmy's recording career included No. 1 hits like "Big Bad John" and "The First Thing Ev'ry Morning (And the Last Thing Ev'ry Night)." But a generation of fans likely knew him as the head of the Jimmy Dean Meat Company and the folksy commercial spokesperson in television ads for the company's line of breakfast food.

Jimmy founded the company in 1969, which was later acquired by Consolidated Foods, Inc.  Jimmy married entertainer Donna Meade in 1991 and the couple lived near Richmond, Va. His autobiography, Thirty Years of Sausage, Fifty Years of Ham, was published in 2004.

Details on Jimmy's funeral are forthcoming.

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