No stranger to hard work, Jimmy Dean grew up on a Texas farm. After dropping out of school at age 16 and serving in the merchant marine and Air Force, Dean began his music career with the band the Tennessee Haymakers. A popular country singer, Dean's song "Big Bad John" spent five weeks at No. 1. It was his musical career that brought Dean to the small screen, headlining with the Texas Wildcats on national television from 1957 to 1959. Other TV credits include roles on Daniel Boone, J. J. Starbuck, and his own variety series, The Jimmy Dean Show (1963–1966). In addition, television viewers watched Mr. Dean's 30 years of commercials promoting sausages from the Jimmy Dean Meat Company, which he started in 1969. Jimmy Dean died of natural causes at his home in Varina, Va. at the age of 81.
Jimmy Dean can be credited with giving the first Muppet his big break. Jim Henson's Rowlf was a regular guest on The Jimmy Dean Show.