Patti Page: A vocalist with enduring appeal (+video)
Patti Page had many big hits, but the biggest was 'Tennessee Waltz,' which made Patti Page the best-selling singer of the 1950s. Patti Page had a career that spanned decades and multiple genres, including country, pop, and R&B.
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Page never kept track, but was told late in life that she'd recorded more than 1,000 songs. That's not what she had in her mind growing up as young Clara Ann Fowler.Skip to next paragraph
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"I was a kid from Oklahoma who never wanted to be a singer, but was told I could sing," she said in a 1999 interview. "And things snowballed."
She was popular in pop music and country and became the first singer to have television programs on all three major networks, including "The Patti Page Show" on ABC. In films, Page co-starred with Burt Lancaster in his Oscar-winning characterization of "Elmer Gantry," and she appeared in "Dondi" with David Janssen and in "Boy's Night Out" with James Garner and Kim Novak.
She also starred on stage in the musical comedy "Annie Get Your Gun." Her death came just a few days after the conclusion of the run of "Flipside: The Patti Page Story," an off-Broadway musical commemorating her life.
In 1999, after 51 years of performing, Page won her first Grammy for traditional pop vocal performance for "Live at Carnegie Hall — The 50th Anniversary Concert." Page was planning to attend a special ceremony on Feb. 9 in Los Angeles where she was to receive a lifetime achievement award from The Recording Academy.
Neil Portnow, the Academy's president and CEO, said he spoke with Page and she had been "grateful and excited" to receive the honor. "Our industry has lost a remarkable talent and a true gift, and our sincere condolences go out to her family, friends and fans who were inspired by her work."
She got her stage name working at radio station KTUL, which had a 15-minute program sponsored by Page Milk Co. The regular Patti Page singer left and was replaced by Fowler, who took the name with her on the road to stardom.
Page was discovered by Jack Rael, a band leader who was making a stop in Tulsa in 1946 when he heard Page sing on the radio. Rael called KTUL asking where the broadcast originated. When told Page was a local singer, he quickly arranged an interview and abandoned his career to be Page's manager.