Saturday, February 24, 2024

The Bell Tolls for Patsy Cline


Patsy Cline was born Virginia Patterson Hensley in Winchester, Virginia, on September 8, 1932. From an early age, she had an interest in music, with her sights set on Nashville.

After several false starts, including an audition at the Grand Ol' Opry, Cline released her first album in 1955.  The first single to hit the airwaves was called A Church, a Courtroom, Then Goodbye.  Although the song was not a commercial success, more would follow, including her signature hit Crazy, released in 1961.  Over the course of her brief career, Cline recorded a total of 104 songs.

On March 3, 1963, Cline performed a benefit concert in Kansas City, Kansas, in honor of a local DJ killed in a car accident one month earlier. Appearing with her on stage were notable country luminaries including Dottie West, George Jones, and the Clinch Mountain Boys. Her final song that night, and ultimately the final song she ever performed live, was I'll Sail My Ship Alone.

She spent the night at a local motel, intent on flying out the next morning. Fog conditions prevented any takeoffs, however. Although West offered her a ride back to Nashville, Cline opted to wait another day and try again, telling West and her husband "don't worry about me, Hoss.  When it's my time to go, it's my time."

On March 5th, she checked out of the hotel and arrived at Fairfax Airport.  There, she boarded a Piper PA-24 Comanche with several of her friends, including amateur pilot Randy Hughes.  The plane stopped in Rogers, Arkansas to refuel, then headed to Dyersburg Municipal Airport in Dyersburg, Tennessee.  There, they were advised by the airfield manager to postpone their travel due to inclement weather, even offering to put them up in a local motel for the night.  Hughes declined the offer however, telling the group "I've already come this far.  We'll be there before you know it."  The plane took off in high winds at 6:07pm.  It soon disappeared from radar.

The next morning, a local man named Roger Miller discovered the plane's wreckage on his property.  It had crashed nose down, and forensic analysis would conclude that all five passengers died on impact.  Cline's watch had stopped at 6:20 pm, just thirteen minutes after take-off.

Cline's body was returned to her hometown of Winchester, where she was laid to rest at Shenandoah Memorial Park.  A bell tower was erected nearby, which chimes every day at exactly 6:20 pm in her honor.

Located on Patsy Cline Highway in Winchester, Virginia.

A section of the park is dedicated to the memory of Cline and
her husband, Charles Dick.

The shared grave of Cline and her husband Charles, who didn't
pass until 2015.

The headstone includes Cline's real name.

A belltower in the park was created in tribute to Cline's legacy.
It tolls every day at 6:20 pm, the exact time her plane crashed 
in 1963.

A memorial plaque at the base of the tower.

Rest in peace.

Saturday, February 17, 2024

Bettie Page - The Queen of Curves


"I never was the girl next door."

Bettie Mae Page was born in Nashville, Tennessee, on April 22, 1923. She was the second of six children to Walter Roy Page and Edna Mae Pirtle.  Her childhood was brief.  Walter went to prison for stealing a car while Edna Mae held down two jobs to support the children.  In their absence, Bettie assumed responsibility for the care of her younger siblings.

Despite this, Page excelled academically. In 1940, she graduated as salutatorian of her high school class after being named "Girl Most Likely to Succeed."  She earned a scholarship to what is today Vanderbilt University, intent on becoming a teacher.  By her sophomore year however, she began studying acting, hoping to become a movie star.  She graduated with a Bachelor of Arts degree in 1944.

After a brief marriage and a quickie divorce, Page moved to New York City.  While working in a store at Coney Island, she met Jerry Tibbs, a New York City police officer and avid photographer.  He took the initial photos that would inevitably launch her career.

She quickly found work as a pin-up model, posing for several photographers throughout the 1950s.  Her photos eventually caught the eye of Hugh Hefner, who was just starting his new magazine, Playboy.  She appeared as Miss January 1955, one of the very first Playmates of the Month.

In 1959, Page became a born-again Christian and went to work for Reverend Billy Graham.  She studied at Bible colleges in Los Angeles and Portland, Oregon, now intent on doing missionary work in Africa.  She was ultimately rejected however, on account of her divorce. She would later twice remarry, but both would end in divorce as well.

In 1978, Page had a nervous breakdown and was arrested for assaulting her landlady.  She was diagnosed with acute schizophrenia and would spend the next 14 years in and out of institutions.

In December 2008, Page was hospitalized in critical condition following a heart attack.  She was placed on life support, which her family opted to discontinue.  She died on December 11, 2008.  She was 85 years old.

Bettie Page was buried at the famed Pierce Brothers Westwood Village Memorial Park in Los Angeles.

Rest in peace.


  • A number of Page biographies have cropped up over the years, including:
       * The Real Bettie Page: The Truth About the Queen of the Pin-Ups   
       * Bettie Page: The Life of a Pin-Up Legend
       * Bettie Page: The Lost Years

  • Page is buried next to notable character actor Allan Melvin and his wife, but this blogger can find no connection between them.  Melvin is probably most famous for his role of Sam the Butcher on The Brady Bunch.

  • This blogger loves attending autograph shows and comic cons, such as the Chiller Theatre Expo and The Hollywood Show. Page would never participate in these events however, stating "I want people to remember me the way I was."

  • Page's photos were the inspiration for the leading lady of the Rocketeer comics, a series that became the basis for the film adaptation The Rocketeer in 1991.  It starred Jennifer Connelly as a Bettie Page-inspired character named Jenny.