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Saturday, 19 June 2010

Jimmy Dean Has Died

Sad news.  The singer, actor and pitchman Jimmy Dean has died.  He touched my childhood in two ways, though I never knew his name, or connected the dots to the two pop phenomena he was involved with.  He sang the song "Big Bad John" which I recall playing non-stop on the car radio when my family drove down route 66, from Montreal to California, in 1974.  That was the summer when Mama Cass died.

A few years before, he had starred in Diamonds Are Forever (1971), which, perhaps oddly, my mother took me to as a six-year-old.  It was my first film, and I loved it.  It made a huge impact on the rest of my life I confess, and I particularly enjoyed the utterly-weird (and Pinteresque) aphorism-quipping queer hitmen Mr Wint and Mr Kidd - "if God had wanted man to fly he would have given him wings" -the brutal fight in the lift (I have never looked at a fire extinguisher the same way since), the cremation scene, and Jimmy Dean as the mysterious Hughes-like millionaire Willard Whyte, who gets to say the immortal lines: "Baja! I haven't got anything in Baja!" - the accent is priceless.  Cue the trip to the oil-platform-cum-doomsday-weapon-platform run by Blofeld - befiore BP became the villain of choice.
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