Country singer Molly Bee, 69, dies

Feb. 11, 2009 at 3:24 PM

OCEANSIDE, Calif., Feb. 11 (UPI) -- Molly Bee, a country singer popular in the 1950s and 1960s, has died in California of complications related to a stroke at the age of 69.

Bee, who died Saturday, was a teen star who appeared on television's "Hometown Jamboree" in Los Angeles and the "The Tennessee Ernie Ford Show," the Los Angeles Times reported.

When she was 13, Bee had her first major hit with "I Saw Mommy Kissing Santa Claus" in 1952. The next year, she recorded "Don't Start Courtin' in a Hot Rod Ford" with Ford.

"She had a great voice and a wonderful stage personality," former teen heartthrob Tommy Sands, who dated Bee, told the Times. "She was a sweet person, just terrific."

As her career took off, Bee appeared on several TV variety shows and had more hit singles. In the 1960s, she starred in films such as "Chartroose Caboose" and "The Young Swingers," the newspaper said.

Bee struggled with drug addiction and didn't perform for several years so she could rebuild her life, the Times said.

Bee, married five times, eventually moved to Oceanside, Calif., where she performed in the early 1990s at a restaurant and nightclub she ran called Molly Bee's. She most recently used the name Molly Muncy off-stage, the Times said.

Bee is survived by a son, two daughters, a brother and four grandchildren.

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