After 50 Years “The Jimmy Dean Show” is Back on Air with RFD-TV


December 29, 2016

(NASHVILLE, TENN.) Before there was “Hee Haw,” the “Muppet Show” or “Get Smart,” there was “The Jimmy Dean Show,” which featured the early beginnings of all three iconic TV series. Beginning Jan. 1, 2017, RFD-TV will re-debut the popular music variety series that originally aired on ABC-TV from 1963 to 1966. The popular hour-long weekly series introduced audiences to one of the first Jim Henson Muppets, Rowlf the Dog, featured a rising young comedian named Don Adams, who’d later star in his own show as secret agent Maxwell Smart, and hosted Roy Clark, Buck Owens and employed staff writers Frank Peppiatt and John Aylesworth, who would go on to create “Hee Haw.”

“The Jimmy Dean Show” has been off the air for fifty years since it’s finale in 1966. The popular series spotlighted a star-studded parade of popular entertainers during its three-year reign. It featured the stars of the day in country, pop, and comedy. Season 1 included 15 Country Music Hall of Famers such as special guests Johnny Cash, George Jones, Buck Owens, Jim Reeves, Carl Smith, Eddie Arnold, Bobby Bare, and The Duke of Paducah. Among the top comedians, Dean had as his guests were Jackie Mason, Dick Shawn, Corbett Monica, Red Buttons, and Allen Sherman. Comics Don Adams and Pat McCormick began developing sketches and familiar catchphrases on the show long before their smash TV comedy hit, “Get Smart.” The series highlighted a wide array of pop stars, such as Eydie Gorme, Gene Pitney, Bobby Rydell, Patti Page, Vikki Carr, Jerry Vale, Patty Duke, Johnny Tillotson, and SSgt. Barry Sadler.

“Jimmy Dean was a self-made man, a man’s man, and kind of what you’d expect from a Texan,” said Brian Hughes, Chief Revenue & Strategy Officer, GM Network Operations. “He was an incredibly talented singer, performer, host, and actor, all of which helped in his becoming a very successful businessman. And through all of this, for nearly five decades, Jimmy Dean helped shine the light on country music to the masses of America. RFD-TV is honored to have this great series.”

Jimmy Dean embodied the American dream and was revered as a recording artist, songwriter, television/film star, and businessman after founding “The Jimmy Dean Sausage Company” with his brother Don. His million-selling 1961 hit, “Big Bad John,” soared to No. 1 on the Billboard Pop Chart and won Dean the 1962 Grammy award for best country and western recording.

Dean was also the first guest host during Johnny Carson’s tenure at “The Tonight Show” and appeared on “The Ed Sullivan Show,” “Hollywood Palace,” “Daniel Boone,” and “Fantasy Island.” As a film star, Dean is best known for his role as billionaire Willard Whyte in the 1971 James Bond movie classic, “Diamonds Are Forever.” Dean was posthumously inducted into the Country Music Hall of Fame, October of 2010 after his death earlier in the year in June.

“For many years it was Jimmy’s dream to bring his show back to television, so I’m sure he’d be thrilled to finally see it happen,” says Donna Dean Stevens, Dean’s widow and executive producer of the newly released show. “He brought a multitude of smiles to people’s faces with great entertainment. It’s my pleasure to fulfill his wish by sharing these shows after a long and arduous restoration process. The digitally remastered shows look and sound even better. I hope folks everywhere, especially fans of the ‘Golden Age of Television,’ will enjoy Jimmy’s brand of classic entertainment once again.”

Project producer Jim Della Croce refers to the three-year restoration process as “a 5,000-piece puzzle, with each piece a vital gold nugget in the mosaic of television history.”

Jayson Stevens served as co-executive producer. Steve Boyle was restoration producer.

For the full program schedule and more information about RFD-TV and Rural Radio Channel 147 on SiriusXM visit and

Watch a video preview HERE.

FAQ – “The Jimmy Dean Show”

  • RFD-TV will air a total of 26 episodes as part of season one.
  • “The Jimmy Dean Show” airs Sundays at 7 p.m. EST (encore Tuesdays at 6:30 p.m. EST and Fridays at 10 p.m. EST) on RFD-TV.
  • Series hosted by country music singer Jimmy Dean.
  • Aired from 1963 – 1966 on the ABC network.
  • The classic series hasn’t been seen in 50 years since it’s finale in 1966.
  • Star Appearances: Although the variety program featured country performers such as Charlie Rich and Roger Miller, more popular music artists appeared. Guests included Eddy Arnold, Connie Smith, Vikki Carr, Buck Owens, Jim Reeves, Red Buttons, Johnny Cash, Eydie Gorme, Carl Smith, Jerry Vale, Gene Pitney, Patty Duke, Bobby Rydell and SSgt. Barry Sadler. 14-year old Hank Williams Jr. appeared on the show singing “Hey Good Lookin’.” Molly Bee was a regular, and comics Jackie Mason, Don Adams, and Dick Shawn appeared.
  • Jim Henson’s Muppets on TV: The show included Dean’s duets with Rowlf the Dog. This is the first national television appearance by the creation of puppeteer Jim Henson. Henson often operated the puppet himself. (Jimmy Dean would later turn down an offer from Henson for 50% of the Henson TV empire).
  • Lassie was a frequent guest on the show. Rowlf the Dog fell in love with the famed canine singing “Lassie, I Love You.”
  • The Beginning of “Get Smart:” Don Adams and Pat McCormick tested comedy sketches developing content that would launch into the TV series “Get Smart” one year later.
  • Restoration process: The three-year process of restoration including footage stabilization and restoration along with audio enhancements.

Watch a video of the press conference from January 5th here: