Eddie Dean (July 9, 1907 – March 4, 1999) was an American western singer and actor whom Roy Rogers and Gene Autry termed the best cowboysinger of all time. Dean was best known for "I Dreamed Of A Hill-Billy Heaven" (1955), which became an even greater hit for Tex Ritter in 1961.
Dean was born Edgar Dean Glosup in the rural community of Posey in Hopkins County, Texas, northwest of Sulphur Springs. His father was ateacher, who encouraged Dean to launch a professional singing career. At the age of sixteen, Dean performed on the Southern gospel circuit with the Vaughan and then the V.O. Stamps quartets.
Dean and his brother, Jimmie Dean (not to be confused with Jimmy Dean, the country entertainer originally from Plainview, Texas) moved to Chicagoand performed together on WLS Radio's National Barn Dance. They also did work from a radio station in Yankton, South Dakota. In 1934, Dean appeared in his first film in the role of Sam in Manhattan Love Song. In 1937, Dean relocated to Hollywood, California, and began appearing in westernfilms, often with Mississippi native Roscoe Ates in the role of Soapy Jones. Many of Dean's early roles were uncredited.
Film and musical numbers
A partial listing of Dean's films and musical numbers includes:
- The Renegade Trail as Singing Cowboy "Red" (1939)
- Rolling Home to Texas as a sheriff (1940)
- The Harmony Trail as Marshal Eddie Dean, his first starring role (1944)
- Wildfire as Sheriff Johnny Deal (1945); performing "On the Banks of the Sunny San Juan" and "By the Sleepy Rio Grande"
- Song of Old Wyoming as Himself (1945); performing "Hills of Old Wyoming", "My Herdin' Song", and "Wild Prairie Rose"
- Colorado Serenade" as Himself (1946); performing "Riding On Top of the Mountain", "Western Lullaby", "Ridin' Down To Rawhide", and "Home on the Range"
- Down Missouri Way as Himself (1946); performing "Old Missouri Hayride"
- Romance of the West" as Himself (1946); performing Ridin' the Trail To Dreamland", "Love Song of the Waterfall", and "Indian Dawn
- Tumbleweed Trail as Himself (1946); performing "Tumbleweed Trail", "Lonesome Cowboy", and "Careless Darlin'"
- Stars over Texas as Himself (1946); performing "Stars Over Texas", "Sands of the Old Rio Grande", and "Fifteen Hundred and One Miles of Texas"
- Range Beyond the Blue as Himself (1947); performing "West of the Pecos", "Range Beyond the Blue", and "Pony With the Uncombed Hair"
- Wild Country as Himself (1947); performing "Wild Country", "Saddle With a Golden Horn", and "Ain't No Gal Got a Brand On Me"
- The Westward Trail as Himself (1948); performing Cathy", "It's Courtin' Time", and "Westward Trail"
- The Tioga Kid as Himself (1948); performing "Driftin' River", "Way Back In Oklahoma", "Ain't No Gal Got A Brand On Me"
- Black Hills as Himself (1948); performing "Black Hills", "Punchinello", and "Let's Go Sparkin'"
Dean also appeared in the Hopalong Cassidy adventure film series.
Dean, Ates, and Jan Sterling also appeared in the short-running ABC television western series, The Marshal of Gunsight Pass, broadcast live in 1950 to West Coast stations from a primitive studio lot at the Iverson Movie Ranch in Chatsworth, California. Dean was also featured in archival footage on NBC's The Gabby Hayes Show.
Long after The Marshal of Gunsight Pass ended, Dean appeared as Trail Boss Tim in a 1962 television short called The Night Rider, with Johnny Cash as Johnny Laredo and Dick Jones, originally from Snyder, Texas, as Billy Joe. Dean thereafter guest starred twice on CBS's The Beverly Hillbillies sitcom with Buddy Ebsen in the 1963 episodes "Elly's Animals" and in the role of Sergeant Dean in "Jed Plays Solomon".
During the 1930s, Dean frequently sang on radio with Judy Canova. Beginning in 1941, he recorded a string of singles for Standard, American Record Company, Just Film, Decca, and Radio Recorders. He joined Mercury Records in 1948, when he released "One Has My Name (The Other Has My Heart)," written with his wife, Lorene Donnelly Dean (October 4, 1911—July 12, 2002),whom he married in 1931 and called "Dearest". The song became Billboard's No. 1 country hit as recorded by Jimmy Wakely and, later, Jerry Lee Lewis, Nat King Cole, Willie Nelson and over 30 other artists.
In 1955, Dean and Hal Southern released "Hill-Billy Heaven". Southern claimed that a dream inspired the song and that the name of the song is derived from the nickname that a West Coast disc jockey, Squeakin' Deacon Moore, had given to Bell Gardens, California, because of its considerable number of country music fans.
Dean continued recording for small labels and was a founder of the Academy of Country Music. One of Eddie's last records, recorded in the 1990s and released on The Bradlley Brothers record label was a country song entitled 'Cold Texas Beer' which harkened back to Eddie's West Texas roots. The song was written by Bill Aken (The Hall Of Fame Guitarist), the adopted son of actors Frank and Lupe Mayorga who had worked in a few films with Eddie in the 1940s. Eddie asked Bill for the 43 year old song because he remembered it from the early days when Aken performed the song himself on Cliffie Stone's 'Hometown Jamboree' in the 1950's. Eddie's recording of it turned out to be one of the very best of his last records and received a lot of radio airplay.
He was also a member of the Cowboy Hall of Fame and the Western Music Association Hall of Fame. Two weeks after his death, his star was added to the Palm Springs Walk of Stars. Dean is represented on albums "Eddie Dean In Concert" (also on video) on the BGR label and "Eddie Dean Collectors' Edition" on Simitar Records. Dean had album released in the mid-1950s on Sage & Sand records entitled "Hi - Country" It featured a few hit's including "Way Out Yonder"
Ronnie Pugh, research librarian at the Country Music Foundation and Hall of Fame, evaluated the Dean legacy accordingly: "Eddie and his brother were one of the first brother acts back in the 1930s. Then, he was a pioneer of the real smooth singing style. Finally, his enduring contribution to country music will be his songwriting."
Longtime manager Don Bradley said that Dean's legacy will be "his music. He never had the promotion and marketing that Roy and Gene had because he and Dearest always did all of their own business. But Eddie was one of the finest singers the good Lord ever made. And he was a great writer. He wrote 80 percent of all the music in his movies."
In 1999, a Golden Palm Star on the Palm Springs, California, Walk of Stars was dedicated to Dean.
Dean died at the age of ninety-one of emphysema in Westlake Village in Los Angeles County. In addition to his wife, Dean was survived by a son, Ed Glosup, and a daughter, Donna Lee Daniel.
The Deans are interred at the Gethsemane plot of Pierce Brothers Valley Oaks Memorial Park in Westlake Village. The headstone reads "Glosup" at the top with "Eddie Dean" and "Dearest Dean" below.