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Molly Bee
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Molly Bee (August 18, 1939–February 7, 2009), was born Mollie Gene Beachboard and was part American Indian. She was a country music singer, who was famous for her 1952 recording of the early perennial "I Saw Mommy Kissing Santa Claus" and as Pinky Lee's sidekick on The Pinky Lee Show. Bee was also well known in the Los Angeles, California area in the 1950s as a regular on Hometown Jamboree, a local television program featuring what was then referred to as "country and Western" music.

Biography

Bee was born in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma on August 18, 1939 and raised in Bell Buckle, Tennessee, Bee and her family moved to Tucson, Arizona sometime in the 1940s. When Molly was growing up, she first wanted to be a "prima ballerina". While in Arizona, Bee was discovered by "Singing Cowboy" Rex Allen, a popular disc jockey in Tucson heard her singing at a school play. Allen was impressed with Bee's talent, having the ten year old sing "Lovesick Blues" on his popular radio show. In 1950, the Beachboard family relocated to the Los Angeles area when Bee was 11. When she was 13, Bee signed with Capitol Records and had her first major recording success with "I Saw Mommy Kissing Santa Claus" in 1952 In 1952, Bee was cast to play Pinky Lee’s sidekick on the nationally televised children's program, The Pinky Lee Show. In 1954, Bee left the children's TV program to join Tennessee Ernie Ford's daytime variety show. Ford coaxed her to yodel, a skill learned on the Tennessee farm, where she spent her early years. Thereafter, her yodeling became a feature in most of her early appearances. She was quoted as saying that her nine years with the Tennessee Ernie Ford show were the most enjoyable years, she was home most of the time, got to see her family everyday.

Bee's biggest hit was followed by three more hit singles, including "The Tennessee Tango". Bee also enjoyed a brief stage and film acting career in the 1950s and 1960s, appearing in Corral Cuties, Going Steady, Chartroose Caboose and The Young Swingers, but once said she was "too shy" to embrace acting. She attended Rosemead High School and graduated from Hollywood Professional High School. Bee appeared in 1958 with George Montgomery in an episode of NBC's The Gisele MacKenzie Show. She guest-starred on a number of national television variety shows, hosted by Tennessee Ernie Ford, Red Foley and Steve Allen. She also became a regular on Hometown Jamboree, a KTLA-TV, Los Angeles show, which was actually produced at the legendary American Legion Stadium in El Monte, California. The Saturday night stage show was hosted and produced by Cliffie Stone, who helped popularize country music in California. Bee sang on the Jamboree throughout her teens, gaining a large following of fans; she was so popular, the program was occasionally called the "Molly Bee Show." During this time, she was also a regular on The Pinky Lee Show, appearing on the television program for three years.

During the 1960s, Bee was a regular headliner at major Las Vegas showrooms and briefly toured with Bob Hope's USO troupe. She also made frequent appearances on ABC-TV's The Jimmy Dean Show. Around 1967, Dick Clark and Barbara John put together a new show for NBC, "Swingin' Country". It featured three regulars - Roy Clark, Molly Bee and Rusty Draper. The show gained popularity and even the Armed Forces Radio and Television picked it up to be seen by over 250,000 military people stationed around the world.

By the end of the 1960s, her career began to fade; in later years she credited a period of drug abuse as one of the reasons for her career's demise. Crediting her children as impetus to retart her career, Bee began a comeback in the 1970s by playing small country bars and venues that were very different from the large concert audiences she had once attracted. She often had her two daughters perform with her. As she rebuilt her fan base, Bee released the albums Good Golly Ms. Molly in 1975, this time on Cliffie Stone's Granite record label, and in 1982, her final album, Sounds Fine to Me Although she was no longer traveling across the country, in April 1998, she was part of the roster playing a benefit for the Ivey Ranch Park for the physically handicapped and mentally retarded, held in her home town, Oceanside.

Personal life

Bee was married at least five times, having two daughters, Lia Glenn and Bobbi Carey, and one son, Michael Allen. Her marriage to country singer Ira Allen lasted 10 years. She was once nominated as "Best Television Personality by The Academy of Country Music Awards. By the 1990s she owned a restaurant and night club in Oceanside, California, "The Molly Bee". She is quoted as saying, "I've done it all, and lived to tell about it". She had gone around the world by the time she was just 19 years old. She remembers working with "incredible people and always into where the action was. I wouldn't trade it for the world."

Death

Molly Bee, who in her later years went by the name Molly Muncy offstage, died on February 7, 2009, at Tri-City Medical Center in Oceanside, California of complications related to a stroke. She was 69 at the time of her death and had lived in Carlsbad, California. In addition to her son Michael of Napa, Calif, Bee is survived by daughters Lia Genn of Winchester, Calif., and Bobbi Carey of Oceanside, brother Robert Beachboard of Escondido; and four grandchildren.

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