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Memories from the Homestead: Singing cowboy Eddie Dean

There is a voice, a voice that Roy Rogers thought was one of the finest in the world of Westerns. A smooth baritone who could sing anything. Let me introduce you to Eddie Dean.


     Eddie Dean's career took off in the early ‘30s. He and his brother previously had their own radio act and would later appear on the WLS National Barn Dance in Chicago. Heading to Hollywood, Eddie was hired by Republic Pictures in 1937 but didn't begin in starring roles. In 1938 he was with Paramount in the Hopalong Cassidy series of films, and by the early 1940s, a number of producers felt that his singing talents needed to be showcased. Eddie and his brother Jimmie were often featured on Gene Autry's Melody Ranch radio shows. 


     In 1944 Dean was cast in the Ken Maynard feature "Harmony Trail." A year later, he was given his own singing cowboy series by PRC. His first three films were amazingly successful.  They were “Song of Old Wyoming,” released October 12, 1945; next was “The Caravan Trail,” April 20, 1946, followed by “Wild West,” released on December 1, 1946. All three films featured Lash LaRue, who soon was given his own series.


     Dean's series of films at PRC did well due to the fact that he was the first cowboy to be filmed in Cinecolor. This was a two-strip color process very similar to Republic's TruColor features. Theater owners were quite impressed. 


     By 1947, the PRC series of films for whatever reason decided to produce Dean's films in black and white. I personally enjoy these as the film quality is much better. Also during this time, tastes were changing, and by 1949, Dean's series had wrapped up completely, and he saw no more starring roles. As the early 1950s came, there were plans to give Dean his own Western television series, but unfortunately it didn't get off the ground.


     As far as commercial recordings are concerned, Dean's recording career had quite a long run, much like many of the other Western performers. His hit recording in 1948, "One Has My Name, the Other Has My Heart" made it to number eleven on the charts. Majestic Records had signed him as his film career was winding down, and later Eddie signed with Capitol Records in late 1950.


     My favorite of his recordings is the 1955 hit, "I Dreamed Of A Hill-Billy Heaven," which he co-wrote with Hal Southern, a dear friend of the Sons of the Pioneers who often filled in if someone had to be out. This recording by the way made it to number ten on the charts.


     Dean's recording career lasted well into the 1960s with Capitol, and during the 1970s he continued to record for independent labels. He often made appearances at Western film festivals and reunion events. This period of his career continued into the 1980s.


     Eddie's beginnings go back to Texas. He was the seventh son of a seventh son, born July 9, 1907, in Posey, Texas. His birth name was Edgar Dean Glosup. He married Lorene Donnelly in 1930 and they were married for sixty-nine years when Eddie passed from emphysema on March 4, 1999 in Westlake Village, California. He and Lorene had two children, Donna and Ed.


     I have several favorites in my collection of Eddie Dean recordings. I highly recommend "Sincerely Eddie Dean," a 1970s Shasta album produced by Jimmy Wakely. There are many recordings and film clips to check out on YouTube. 

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