The singer, one of the brightest pop stars of the '50s, was 85

By People Staff
Updated January 02, 2013 05:50 PM
Credit: Michael Ochs Archives/Getty

Patti Page, one of the most successful pop stars of the ’50s – famed for hits such as “Tennessee Waltz” and “How Much Is That Doggie in the Window?” – died on Tuesday in Encinitas, Calif., the New York Times reports. She was 85.

Seacrest VIllage Retirement Communities, where she lived, confirmed her death to the Times on Wednesday.

Page’s songs sold millions – “Tennessee Waltz” spent months atop the pop, country and R&B charts and sold a total of 10 million copies – but her singing style and sentimental hits, though favored by the public, did not always receive critical praise.

”A couple of critics back then said my voice was like milquetoast,” Page told the Times in 2003. ”My music was called plastic, antiseptic, placid. It was only five or so years after the war, a different time. A simpler time. The music was simpler, too.”

Born Clara Ann Fowler on Nov. 8, 1927, in Claremore, Okla., Page was one of 11 children. She began her career at Tulsa radio station KTUL, where she took over a country-music radio show called “Meet Patti Page,” which is where she adopted her pseudonym. She went on to be signed by Mercury Records, where she had her first platinum-selling hit, “With My Eyes Wide Open, I’m Dreaming,” in 1950. Among her other notable musical accomplishments: she recorded the theme to Hush … Hush, Sweet Charlotte, the 1964 thriller starring Bette Davis, which was nominated for an Oscar. In 1965, Page performed the song on the Academy Awards telecast.

Page also had a television career, hosting 1952’s Music Hall on CBS, a 15-minute show that followed the evening news. She also hosted The Big Record, which ran for one season in 1957 and 1958, and The Patti Page Show on NBC in the summer of 1956.

Meanwhile, she continued to sing professionally into her early 70s. In 1999, she won a Grammy, her first and only one, for Live at Carnegie Hall, an album she recorded in 1997 celebrating 50 years in the music business.

Page was married twice, first to Charles O’Curran, a choreographer, in 1956. They divorced in 1972. She married Jerry Filiciotto, a retired aerospace engineer, in 1990. Together, they co-founded a company that marketed maple syrup products. He died in 2009.

Page is survived by her son, Danny O’Curran; her daughter Kathleen Ginn; and some grandchildren.