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Patsy Cline

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Vintage dual-signed portrait of the legendary country music icon,

signed in person at a benefit concert in 1955

Patsy Cline, born Virginia Patterson Hensley, 1932–1963.  Legendary country music artist.  Vintage glossy 8” x 10” portrait photograph inscribed and signed twice, Sincerely yours / Patsy Cline on the front and Yours / Patsy Cline on the back.

This early black-and-white portrait of Cline, dressed in one of her fringed Western dresses, has never been offered on the autograph market before.  Cline signed it in person at a benefit concert in the small town of Brunswick, Maryland, in the summer of 1955, and it has been in possession of the family of the person to whom she gave it until we acquired it. 

Cline was from Winchester, Virginia, less than an hour’s drive from Brunswick. She sang at the Brunswick Moose Lodge every Saturday night with Bill Peer and the Melody Boys.  Country music star Jimmy Dean performed regularly at the Brunswick Fire Hall.

In May 1955, a five-year-old girl from Brunswick, Vicki Stair, was badly burned when her dress accidentally caught fire.  The Brunswick fire chief helped to organize the benefit concert to raise money to pay her medical bills.  Cline, Dean, and Roy Clark performed for a sellout crowd at the Brunswick Fire Hall.  The entertainers donated all of the proceeds to Stair’s parents.  Stair recalled that “Patsy saw my momma had her hands full,” so she diapered Stair’s two-year-old brother and then took him out onto the floor to dance.

In the bottom white margin of this photo, Cline has written “Town & Country Jamboree — Decca Records.”  “Town and Country Time,” which starred Jimmy Dean, was a syndicated show produced in Washington, some 45 miles down the Potomac River from Brunswick.  Initially, 52 episodes of the show were filmed in 1954, but because of the popularity of the show, it became a daily program.  It aired on WMAL in Washington in 1955.  It was picked up in other markets as the “Town and Country Time Jamboree” in 1956. 

Cline signed this photograph the year that she signed a recording contract with 4 Star Records, an affiliate of Decca Records, and her music career began in earnest.  Her recordings appeared on the Decca label and the label of its subsidiary, Coral Records, through a license from 4 Star.  Once her 4 Star contract expired late in 1960, she recorded for Decca. 

On July 1, 1955, Cline made also her network television debut on the television version of Nashville’s Grand Ole Opry, and later that month she appeared on ABC’s live broadcast of the Ozark Jubilee from Springfield, Missouri, where she became a regular.  She gained nationwide fame, though, after singing Walkin’ After Midnight on ABC’s Arthur Godfrey’s Talent Scouts in New York on January 21, 1957.  The extremely positive public reaction to the song resulted in its rush release as a single three weeks later.  In 1960, she became a member of the Grand Ole Opry cast. 

An American music legend, Cline has been called one of the most influential, successful, and acclaimed female vocalists of the 20th Century.  She was the first female country vocalist to headline her own show.  In addition to Walkin’ After Midnight, a crossover hit that reached # 2 on the Billboard country chart and # 12 on its pop chart, she recorded such country standards as I Fall to Pieces, Sweet Dreams, She’s Got You, and what became her signature song, Willie Nelson’s renowned Crazy, the most-played jukebox song of all time.  She was the first female country artist to perform at New York’s Carnegie Hall and the first female solo artist to be inducted into the Country Music Hall of Fame.  She also has a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame.  A recent survey ranked her at the top of Country Music Television’s 40 Greatest Women in Country

Cline was at the top of her career on March 5, 1963, when she and two other country stars, Cowboy Copas and Hawkshaw Hawkins, were killed in a plane crash near Camden, Tennessee, some 90 miles outside of Nashville.  They were on their way home from performing three standing-room-only shows as a benefit in Kansas City, Missouri.  Cline was only 30 years old.

Cline had the interesting habit of sometimes signing photographs twice, as she did here.  Like this one, her signed photos often bear generic inscriptions and are not signed to anyone in particular.  Likely she brought pre-signed photographs to her appearances and then signed them again on the back as she interacted with fans who sought her autograph.

This photograph is by Rush Studio of Winchester, Virginia, Cline’s hometown.  Cline has signed the front in black fountain pen and the back in red ballpoint.  The photo has a diagonal bend in the upper left corner and scattered handling marks, particularly in the corners.  Overall it is in fine condition.



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