Before there was Hannah Montana, there was Patsy Montana.
The former was the stage name of Miley Stewart, who in turn was the name of the character portrayed by Miley Cyrus on a very popular Disney series from 2006-2011.
The latter was the first female country singer to sell a million copies of a record, in this case “I Want to Be a Cowboy’s Sweetheart” in 1935. Just as Hannah Montana was a stage name, so was “Patsy Montana,” which was the performing moniker of Rubye Blevins. Rubye, the only girl among 11 siblings, showed an early interest in music, but it was a watermelon that led directly to her singing career. It seems that she and two of her brothers traveled to the Chicago World’s Fair in 1933 to enter a prize watermelon. While in Chicago, she auditioned as a singer and—to make a long-story short—ended up a member of the Prairie Ramblers who regularly appeared on WLS’s National Barn Dance.
Part of her repertoire was “Montana Plains,” which she altered somewhat, turning it into “I Want to Be a Cowboy’s Sweetheart.” She then adopted the “Patsy Montana” handle from Monte Montana, a silent film star and rodeo champion and poof! A million selling record and a long and prosperous career blossomed from the seed that watermelon had dropped two years before. (No word on how the melon placed in the contest.)
Patsy remained a regular on National Barn Dance until the 1950s and appeared in one movie, Colorado Sunset, along the way. The film starred Gene Autry. Patsy was inducted into the National Cowgirl Museum and Hall of Fame, as well as the Country Music Hall of Fame, and is reported to have influenced the styles of Patsy Cline and Dottie West.
The scope of our influence often outlasts the memory of our names.
Patsy married, had two daughters (who would later appear with her as the Patsy Montana Trio), and lived to be 87, having departed for the last roundup in 1996. For more details about her life, see her Country Music Hall of Fame entry or her Wikipedia page.
Thanks to regular reader Jerry Lane for bringing Patsy to my attention. I love stories about fascinating lives!