Jimmy Ray Dean (August 10, 1928 – June 13, 2010) was an American country music singer, television host, actor and businessman. Although he may be best known today as the creator of the Jimmy Dean sausage brand, he became a national television personality starting in 1957, rising to fame for his 1961 country crossover hit "Big Bad John". His acting career included a supporting role as Willard Whyte in the 1971 James Bond movie, Diamonds Are Forever. He lived near Richmond, Virginia and was nominated for the Country Music Hall of Fame in 2010, although he was formally inducted posthumously.
Dean was born in Plainview, Texas, in 1928, the son of George Otto Dean and his second wife Ruth (née Taylor) Dean. He attributed his interest in music to the Seth Ward Baptist Church. He dropped out of high school and became a professional entertainer after a stint in the U.S. Air Force in the late 1940s.
Dean had his first hit, "Bummin' Around", in 1953 on the 4 Star label, but had no other hits for the rest of the decade. He signed with Columbia Records in 1957.