Willard Whyte, aka Jimmy Dean, passes away at 81

Singer Jimmy Dean died on June 13 at the age 81.The Associated Press obiturary for Dean said he passed away at home.

The AP obit goes into detail about Dean’s singing career and business savvy. And there’s this reference:

Dean became a headliner at venues like Carnegie Hall and the Hollywood Bowl and became the first country star to play on the Las Vegas strip. He was the first guest host on ”The Tonight Show,” and also was an actor with parts in television and the movies, including the role of James Bond’s ally Willard Whyte in the 1971 film ”Diamonds Are Forever.”

Dean’s role was the result of producer Albert R. Broccoli having a dream that his old friend, reclusive millionaire Howard Hughes, had been replaced but nobody knew about it. Screenwriter Tom Mankiewicz, taking over after a first draft by Richard Maibaum, built his script around the idea, with Ernst Stavro Blofeld having taken over the busines empire of Mankiewicz’s Willard Whyte character (aided by Bert Saxby, an aide to Whyte). But it was Dean who brought the character to life, which led to one of the highlights in the film:

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One Response

  1. The AP obit goes into detail about Dean’s singing career and business savvy. And there’s this reference:

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