Jean Dinning, 86, who wrote the tragic pop song "Teen Angel" that became a No. 1 hit for her brother in 1959, died Feb. 22 in Garden Grove, said her daughter, Cynthia Wygal. Dinning had a respiratory illness.
She wrote the song after reading a newspaper article about teenagers making
positive contributions that used the phrase "teen angels." Her younger
brother, Mark Dinning, recorded the sad ballad, and it was his only major
hit. He died of a heart attack at 52 in 1986.
The song is credited with inaugurating an early-1960s cycle of morbid songs about
teenage mortality that included
Ray Peterson's "Tell Laura I Love Her" and Jan & Dean's "Dead Man's Curve."
One of nine children, she was born Eugenia Dinning on March 29, 1924, in Enid, Okla.
As one of the Dinning Sisters — a trio that included
her twin, Ginger — she performed from the late 1930s until 1954. The group had
a top-10 hit with "Buttons and Bows" in 1948 and appeared on the
country music TV show "The National Barn Dance."
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