I was going to let the passing of singer /sausage maker/entrepreneur, Jimmy Dean go by without a word. I write too many of these things and am always at risk of being accused of some kind of plagiarism since the facts of a person of notes life are hashed and rehashed. As the day progressed I wondered if he didn't deserve a word or two.
Now the man is mostly known as the name on the label of sausage products. A few of us are old enough to remember him as a cross over country/pop artist. He had a major hit with his ballad of Big John, big enough to get him a variety show in 1961. One of a hundred then I guess yet his does bear a cultural reference that has long overshadowed his own, he had as a part of his show a shaggy dog, not quite marionette, not quite puppet.
Rolf was his name. He played piano and sang with Jimmy too. The man who operated and voiced Rolf was named Jim too, Jim Henson. Rolf was the first muppet to go nation wide. So we see that while Jimmy Dean was enjoying his moments in the sun, he gave light to something that has become a part of global culture.
Sure he faded when his show ended, he did some guest work and even had a part in Diamonds are Forever. He moved on from entertainment to take up the family business of hogs. His name and the quality of his product made him remain a name in the public eye.
It is silly I guess to memorialize a long faded country singer that took up sausage as a way of making a living. That he recognized the talent and potential of Jim Henson and helped him make the break from a regional talent that made some clever commercials and let him become a major force in entertainment is good enough of a reason for me. So long Jimmy and thanks for helping give the world characters like Rolf, Kermit, Bert, Ernie, Miss Piggy, Elmo, Big Bird ad infinitum. The world was a little better because of you and that alone makes you worth mention.