About The Artist
Eddie Dean was one of the lesser Hollywood "singing cowboys" whose starring roles were limited to only twenty films (1944-1950), but he was widely acclaimed to be one of the best singers in that particular trade. While he recorded several numbers each for Decca and Capitol, the majority of his numbers were on such labels as Majestic and Sage & Sand.
In addition, he composed a large number of songs, most notably "One Has My Name (the Other Has My Heart)" and "I Dreamed of a Hillbilly Heaven," which became even bigger hits for his friends. The best known of Dean's songs he did for himself was "On the Banks of the Sunny San Juan."
Edgar Dean Glosup was born near Sulphur Springs, Texas. His farmer father also taught voice music to his rather large family of which Eddie was the seventh son. At nineteen, he went to Chicago where one of his older brothers resided.
He befriended some WLS musicians and appeared on some of their daytime programs. Someone suggested that his surname was not good for radio, so he dropped Glosup and he (and a brother) used only Dean for a last name.
Eddie and a brother Jimmy actually began regular broadcasting at WNAX radio in Yankton, South Dakota and then at WIBW Topeka, Kansas. In 1934, he moved back to Chicago and the boys made their first recordings for Decca, putting six hymns on disc. Later that year, they did eight songs for Art Satherly that appeared on several American Record Corporation labels. He also appeared on a variety of daytime soap operas on network programs.
In 1936, Billboard mentions in their Program Reviews column that Eddie had the role of Larry Burton, an out of work rodeo cowboy in a radio series called "Broadway Cinderella that aired over WGN in Chicago and the MBS Network.
In 1942, Billboard mentions that Eddie had joined the Judy Canova program and mentions some of Eddie's earlier stops at variou radio stations. In addition to WNAX, it mentions Clay Center, Nebraska, most likely radio station KMMJ. It went on to mention he 'progressed to minstrel man' at WGN then to 'professional hillbilly' on WENR in Chicago. In mentioning a tune he had written with Judy Canova - Put A Star In Your Window Tonight - Eddie discovered he was getting royalty checks for a song he had written but forgotten, How Can You Save You Love Me? The mention indicated that the Petrillo ban on recordings helped bring the old record to light and sales were doing well.
While with the Canova program, Alma Sioux Scarberry, a novelist who was working in the publicity department for CBS, used Eddie as an inspiration when she wrote the tune, I'd Lasso A Rainbow For You.
As an example of how it can be frustrating for researchers to find information on someone, the duo of Eddie and Jimmie Dean were known as the "Dean Brothers" on WLS. However, in 1934, another duo of Dean Brothers were showing up in searches - Jay (Dizzy) and Paul (Daffy) Dean - were making a name for themselves in Major League Baseball with the St. Louis Cardinals.
Cowboy In The Movies
One obituary indicates he started to get into films with a bit part in the Tex Ritter movie, Golden Trail in 1940. He played the role of Henchman Bart.
In early 1938, Eddie moved to Hollywood. George Biggar reported for WLS Stand-By in April 1938 (a letter he wrote to WLS was from March 8, 1938) that Eddie was taking auditions for work in Hollywood, seemed to be getting good reviews and was hoping for that 'break' soon. He had jobs playing supporting roles in films and sang songs on radio, increasingly western ballads.
In 1944, Eddie landed a contract with the poverty-row movie studio PRC to star in a series of musical westerns. Initially he co-starred with veteran Ken Maynard in Harmony Trail. The first in the PRC series, Song of Old Wyoming, came out early in 1945.
The first five films were shot in Cinecolor (a less expensive alternative to technicolor; trucolor was another). Eddie's films had lower budgets than those of Autry and Rogers. In one interview, Eddie felt that was the reason for the popularity of his films - they were the first done in color.
In mid-1947 through 1948, Eagle-Lion Studio took over the series as PRC went bankrupt. During his movie star days, Crystal, Mercury and Majestic were his record labels, with Majestic having better distribution.
Many of the movie posters seen during research often mention the name of Eddie's horse in the movie. He used four horses in his movies — War Paint, Flash, White Cloud and Copper.
By 1955, he had appeared in over 50 movies.
Recordings / Songwriting
In 1941, Eddie signed with Decca doing a dozen songs in two sessions including one of his signature numbers co-written with Glenn Strange (later remembered as Sam the bartender on Gunsmoke), "On the Banks of the Sunny San Juan" which became his lifelong theme song. He began singing on Gene Autry's radio show. He was also a regular on Judy Canova's popular network program.
Early Billboard magazine record reviews of various artists were often very descriptive in their choice of words. One example was a review of Eddie's Little Grey Home In The West b/w Where The Silv'ry Colorado Wends Its Way (Decca 6026) in 1942:
"A sentimental twosome given a quiet and highly effective rendition by Dean's deep, pleasant voice and nice top notes, backed by melodion and guitars. Home, on the A side, is an always popular oldie that's taken extremely slowly and quietly and with a heavy helping of schmaltz. Should prove excellent for the many spots where customers like to cry into their beer. Colorado, on the B side, is also given quiet treatment, but at a brighter tempo: it, too, is a swell bet for localities where sentiment counts. Both are good, but Colorado is probably a bit the better. A nice disk both ways. "
"One Has My Name" made the charts for him, but his friend Jimmy Wakely's cover spent eleven weeks at number one. Eddie's wife was a co-writer on this song.
Delights in Eddie's movies included such sidekicks as Emmett Lynn and Roscoe Ates and leading ladies typified by Jennifer Holt and the lovely Shirley Patterson.
Dean's movie career ended but his musical career endured for well into the 1980's. He recorded for Capitol in the early 1950's and then turned to the small but stable Sage & Sand label where he had more singles than for any other company, including his first rendition of "I Dreamed of a Hillbilly Heaven" which later became a huge hit for Tex Ritter.
"I Dreamed Of A Hillbilly Heaven" was his biggest hit. Bea Terry met with Eddie and his wife and learned how that song got written. It seems it started with a dream Eddie's wife, Lorine, had about ghost riders and talking to singing ghosts. A few days later, Hal Southern had met Eddie and told him he also had had a dream; his was about a hillbilly heaven. Eddie quipped, "We'd better write that song, Hal. My wife had a dream, too."
Woody Fleener, who owned a small label, Sage & Sand, was trying to record Eddie. The song was recorded and Sage & Sand was no longer a "small record company."
There was a bit of irony here as some people considered Dean insufficiently country. Sage & Sand also released three Dean long-play albums.
Besides the hits mentioned so far, Eddie wrote or co-wrote other tunes as well.
In the 1970's Eddie recorded for Jimmy Wakely's Shasta label and had other albums for various budget firms. His voice held firm through the 1980's when he entertained at numerous western film festivals.
In his later years he received numerous awards for his contributions to western music. On March 20, 1999 (after his death), he was honored with a star on the Palm Springs Walk of Stars.
He was one of the founding members of the Academy of Country Music (ACM) and served as a vice-president. In 1978, he received the Academy of Country Music Pioneer Award. In 1990, he was inducted into the Western Music Association Hall of Fame.
Riding Into The Sunset
A 1955 article mentioned that at one time he spent some time prospecting for uranium.
By the mid-1990s, the man often termed the "Golden Voiced Cowboy" began to encounter health problems. He passed away prior to his ninety-second birthday of emphysema.
In the various obituaries that covered his career in its varied aspects, a comment by James Nottage, who was a curator at the Gene Autry Museum of Western Heritage. He stated, "He Had aa really pleasant voice. ... I think he would have been known in country and western music if he had not been in film."
Another obituary noted that he starred in an ABC Television series called "The Marshal of Gunsight Pass" that ran for six months before being cancelled in 1950. The show was produced by Russell Hayden. In another, it mentions he had a standing part as the yodeling copyin "The Beverly Hillbillies" television series (e.g., in Season 1, Episode 21 he does a bit of yodeling with Pearl (played by Bea Bernadet).
He performed will into his 80's, often appearing at the Palomino Club in North Hollywood. He was said to be quite adept at doing impressions. His impersonation of Elvis Presley was said to be "masterful."
On September 11, 1931, Eddie married the former Lorene Donnelly whom he had nicknamed "Dearest" in Yankton, South Dakota where he was working at WNAX. His obituary mentions two children, son, Eddie Jr. and daughter, Donna Lee. His wife, Lorene, was born on October 4, 1911 in Yankton, SD; she passed away on July 12, 2002. They are buried in Westlake Village, CA.
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