Minnie Pearl (whose real name was Sarah Ophelia Colley) made her
debut on the stage of the Grand Ole Opry in Nashville in 1940.
She was a popular comedian there and on tour, but only came to
national prominence in the 1970's when she started working on
the television show "Hee Haw". In real life, Colley asked that
people call her Minnie, explaining that she had "been
Minnie longer than [she had] been Sarah."
On stage, Minnie always wore a gingham dress and
straw hat with a price tag still attached ($1.98). Currently, her hat is on display at the Smithsonian's Museum of American History in the "Popular Culture" section. In her act, she
played the old spinster and her jokes often focused on
her endless search for a "feller". In real life, Minnie was happily married for many years to her manager, Harry Cannon.
In 1985, Minnie developed breast cancer.
She would campaign vigorously against breast cancer
for the remainder of her life. The Minnie Pearl Cancer Foundation's
website is at http://www.minniepearl.org/. The Sarah Cannon Cancer Center (http://sarahcannon.com/) in Nashville, Tennessee is named in her honor.
Minnie Pearl was born on October 25, 1912 in
Centerville, Tennessee. She graduated from Ward-Belmont College
in Nashville (where she studied drama) before becoming a
was inducted into the Country Music Hall of Fame in 1975.
Minnie Pearl died on March 4, 1996.
Although I did watch Hee Haw as a kid, whenever I think of
Minnie Pearl, I think of The Dead Milkmen song "Punk Rock Girl".
Thanks to elluzion for the pointer to the Sarah Cannon Cancer Center.