Eddie Dean, country vocalist, guitarist, songwriter, and actor, was born Edgar Dean Glosup on July 9, 1907, in Posey, Texas, eleven miles southeast of Lubbock. He is best remembered from the 1940s as the golden-throated cowboy with a smooth, melodic voice. Dean appeared in more than thirty Western films and was the first singing cowboy to star in color films.
Edgar Dean Glosup was the son of a farmer and school teacher. His mother taught him to sing and harmonize. In 1926 he moved to Chicago in hopes of pursuing a career in radio. By 1927 after making only a few radio guest spots, Glosup shortened his name to Eddie Dean and moved to Shenandoah, Iowa. Dean joined his brother Jimmy, not to be confused with country artist Jimmy Dean, in 1929, and the two began their singing careers together. From 1930 to 1932 the brothers spent time singing on radio station WTBW in Topeka, Kansas, before they returned to Chicago. There, Eddie and Jimmy were featured on the WLS National Barn Dance for three years and recorded with labels ARC and Decca. Eddie Dean made his screen debut with a small part in Manhattan Love Song in 1934.
By 1937 Dean moved to Los Angeles and began appearing in small film roles opposite big named actors, including Roy Rogers, Gene Autry, Don “Red” Berry, and William Boyd (Hopalong Cassidy). Dean wrote many of his film songs. From 1941 to 1942 he released eight singles, including “On the Banks of the Sunny San Juan.” Dean’s big break came in 1944 when he starred and sang in the musical Western Harmony Trail with Ken Maynard. Dean went on to star in some twenty more Westerns until he retired from the industry in 1948. At the height of his career, Dean was listed among the top ten cowboy stars of the 1940s.
After retiring from the film industry, Dean focused more on his singing career. In 1948 Dean co-wrote, with his wife, the single “One Has My Name (The Other Has My Heart),” which was also recorded by Jim Wakely and later revived by Jerry Lee Lewis in 1969. In 1955 Dean wrote and recorded his best-known hit “I Dreamed of a Hillbilly Heaven.” Six years later, Tex Ritter’s recording of the song scored a major hit on the country and pop charts and sold more than ten million copies. Dean was on radio’s Town Hall Party in the 1950s.
Dean was a founding member of the Academy of Country Music, and he won that organization’s Pioneer Award in 1978. He was an inductee into the Western Music Association’s Hall of Fame in 1990 and was inducted into the Cowboy Hall of Fame in 1993. In the later years of his life, Dean played primarily in clubs. He continued to perform well into his eighties and often appeared at the Palomino Club in North Hollywood. On March 4, 1999, he died at the age of ninety-one in Thousand Oaks, California, as a result of lung and heart disease. Dean was survived by his wife of sixty-eight years, Dearest, daughter Donna Knorr, son Edgar Dean Glosup, sister Lorene Lacuata, eight grandchildren, nine great-grandchildren, and one great-great grandchild. Dean is buried at Valley Oaks Memorial Park in Westlake Village, Los Angeles County, California.
Shortly after his death, Dean received a star on the Palm Springs Walk of Fame on March 20, 1999. Most critics agree that his singing was the best part of his films, including Gene Autry, who once said Dean had the best voice of all the cowboy singers. Today, Dean is considered to be a Texas music pioneer who made a significant contribution to the art and business of music, as well as his place of birth.