April 22, 2009 — Jimmy Dean, Ferlin Husky and Kitty Wells — three country artists whose biggest hits came during the 1950s and '60s — have found their way into headlines this week with events that range from a life-threatening illness to a career celebration.
The stories include:
• Jimmy Dean and his wife, Donna Meade, suffered a huge fire at their Virginia home on Monday, The Richmond Times Dispatch reported. From the time emergency workers were alerted to the blaze, it took eight hours to bring it to a halt, with much of the residence destroyed. The couple and their caretaker escaped the house safely, but three firefighters suffered minor injuries.
• Ferlin Husky, remembered for his gospel-themed hit "Wings Of A Dove," was hospitalized over the weekend in Springfield, Mo., according to the Associated Press. Ferlin was diagnosed with congestive heart failure and pneumonia. He's survived multiple heart scares dating back to 1977 when he underwent a triple bypass. He also suffered a heart attack in 1983, had another bypass in 1990 and went through at least one more heart surgery in 2005.
• Kitty Wells: Queen Of Country Music closes at the Country Music Hall of Fame on June 14, the final day of the CMA Music Festival in Nashville. The GAC-sponsored exhibit, which opened in August, features a bevy of memorabilia related to Kitty's career, including her 1954 Gibson guitar, the original manuscript for her standard "It Wasn't God Who Made Honky Tonk Angels" and the gown she wore the night she joined the Country Music Hall of Fame. During May, the Hall of Fame and Museum will present special programs featuring vintage footage from her career, including clips of the syndicated "Kitty Wells And Johnny Wright Family Show," "Hee Haw" and "Austin City Limits."