Molly Bee Country Singer Dies

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Molly Bee, a country singer popular in the 1950s and 1960s who was a teenage star on television's Hometown Jamboree and The Tennessee Ernie Ford Show, has died. She was 69.

Bee, who lived in Carlsbad, Calif., died Saturday of complications related to a stroke at Tri-City Medical Center in Oceanside, said Michael Allen, her son.

Molly Bee At 10, she sang “Lovesick Blues" for country singer Rex Allen and soon debuted on his radio show. Within two years, she was a regular on Hometown Jamboree, a Los Angeles-based show run by Cliffie Stone, who helped popularize country music in California.

First broadcast on radio, “Jamboree" aired on KTLA-TV Channel 5 from the late 1940s to 1960. The show gave a big break to many young singers, including Tommy Sands, who became a teen idol and dated Bee in the 1950s. “She had a great voice and a wonderful stage personality," Sands told The Times on Monday. “She was a sweet person, just terrific."

When she was 13, Bee signed with Capitol Records and had her first major recording success with “I Saw Mommy Kissing Santa Claus" in 1952. The next year, she recorded a duet with Ford, “Don't Start Courtin' in a Hot Rod Ford." In 1954, Bee left the children's TV program The Pinky Lee Show to join Ford's daytime variety show.

Before their performance of Dim Lights Thick Smoke, Ford teased her about the pigtails she once wore and praised her “silver bell voice." He then coaxed her to yodel, a skill she had honed on the Beltbuckle, Tenn., farm where she spent her early years.

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