Photo of Jimmy Dean Jimmy Dean

A self-taught country musician and variety-show host who leveraged his name brand into a successful sausage business, Jimmy Dean was born in Plainview, Texas, on Aug. 10, 1928. He never finished high school, but Dean eventually scored big with his Grammy-winning 1961 hit "Big Bad John," a story-song about a heroic coal miner.

Dean's fame as a performer led to his own TV variety series, "The Jimmy Dean Show" (1963-66), which exposed mainstream audiences to country music stars such as George Jones, Roger Miller and Charlie Rich. Also a shrewd entrepreneur, Dean launched his own line of breakfast sausages with the Jimmy Dean Sausage Co., which was later sold to Sara Lee.

Dean's film résumé includes Diamonds Are Forever (1971), in which he played a reclusive billionaire. He died June 13, 2010, several months before he was due to be inducted into the Country Music Hall of Fame. He was 81.

Jimmy Dean in Diamonds Are Forever

Diamonds Are Forever

1971 PG

When he discovers that his archenemy is stockpiling the world's supply of diamonds for use in a deadly laser satellite, secret agent James Bond sets out to thwart the madman help from beautiful smuggler Tiffany Case.

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