From time to time I think it’s an interesting exercise to look at the stories of people who have risen to fame and fortune, and figure out how they did it. Was it luck? Hard work? A burning desire to succeed? Today i wanted to look at one such story of rags to riches.
This past weekend we saw the passing of a entertainment and business icon, musician, actor and sausage magnate Jimmy Dean. While most of us are probably familiar with Jimmy Dean’s sausage because of the prolific TV commercials, what a lot of people don’t know is that Jimmy Dean lived a true to life rags to riches story. He was a musician and singer, actor, businessman and more.
Early Life And Musical Beginnings
Jimmy Dean was born in 1928, in Plainview, Texas. He was raised in poverty and dropped out of high school after the ninth grade. Despite his humble beginnings, he rose above his situation, worked hard and made himself into a huge success.
Dean grew up in a musical household where his mother taught him to play the piano. His father, who left the family, was a songwriter and singer. Dean taught himself to play the accordion and the harmonica.
Dean began a band “The Texas Wildcats” in 1948 that by the early 1950’s had it’s first national hit. In 1961 he won the Grammy for his big hit “Big Bad John,” which is about a coal miner who saves fellow workers when a mine roof collapses. It’s one of his more famous songs, that you can still hear today. Here’s a video of the song:
Fame, Fortune And Business
His fame in the music business ended up leading to a career in TV and movies. He had a couple of iterations of “The Jimmy Dean Show” on CBS and ABC, played an ally of James Bond in the film “Diamonds Are Forever.” He was also the first guest host on “The Tonight Show”.
In the late 1960’s Jimmy Dean returned to something that he knew well – the meat business. His family had raised hogs when he was little. Jimmy and his brother slaughtered the hogs and ground the meat – and his mother seasoned and prepared it.
Jimmy Dean opened the The Jimmy Dean Meat Co. in his home town of Plainview, Texas – and after six months, the company was profitable. Jimmy was a good businessman. He sold the company to Sara Lee Corp. in 1984, although he stayed on spokesman until 2003. Who hasn’t seen one of the commercials for Jimmy Dean Sausage?
By the early 1990’s Jimmy’s personal fortune had grown by leaps and bounds and was estimated at near 75 million dollars. Not bad for a poor kid from Plainview!
Jimmy Dean – Careful Money Manager
Having watched other stars fritter away their fortunes, Dean was always a careful money manager – which helped him to amass such a fortune.
“I’ve seen so many people in this business that made a fortune,” he told the AP. “They get old and broke and can’t make any money. … I tell you something, … no one’s going to play a benefit for Jimmy Dean.”
Jimmy Dean rose from a life of poverty with a single mother to attain every dream he had ever had. He did it through hard work, persistence and through common sense business practices and integrity. If we can learn anything from his life it is the power that can be found in those things.