While putting together some background for this piece, I ran across something that stated that Roy Rogers and Gene Autry both said that B-movie star Eddie Dean was the best of the singing cowboys. The funny thing about that is that it seems to contradict a statement I relayed in a previous piece about cowboy star Rex Allen. Added to that is the fact that practically everything you read on the internet should be taken with the proverbial grain of salt. So I guess what I’m prepared to state is this: Eddie Dean was certainly ONE of the best.
Eddie Dean was born Edgar Dean Glosup in rural Texas, and while growing up was inspired by his music-teacher mother to look toward a musical career. By the time he’d reached adulthood he’d moved to Chicago, where he managed to break into radio. During the early years of the Depression he was joined by his brother, Jimmy, and the twosome spent some time singing on radio and making the occasional record, but with limited success.
The brothers eventually went their separate ways, and Eddie decided to try his luck in Hollywood. Beginning with bit parts in Westerns, he gradually worked his way into bigger roles while also singing regularly on the radio. He also managed to get some solidly successful records made. It all came together for him during the war years, as he began to get the lead in countless Western movies and became a popular star.
In the post-war years, Dean’s movie roles dried up and he pretty much dedicated himself to music. He’d always been able to sell records as a singer and that success continued, but his most-remembered song was actually a bigger hit for another vocalist. Dean’s 1955 country anthem “Hillbilly Heaven” was a solid seller, but a few years later Tex Ritter would make the song a classic.
Eddie Dean continued to make appearances from time to time for most of the rest of his life, and was always popular with fans. He was inducted into the Cowboy Hall of Fame in 1993, and died in 1998.
(Movie poster courtesy of Boyd Magers – http://www.westernclippings.com)