Patsy Cline would have turned 84 today, September 8th, and this rare clip captures one of the singer’s more comically odd network-TV appearances. In Cline’s final appearance on Jubilee, U.S.A., on June 4th, 1960, she’s joined by the show’s guest host, country-pop crooner Eddy Arnold, singer June Valli and Cowboy Copas, the latter of whom would die in the same March 1963 plane crash with 30-year-old Cline.
The tune they perform in this charming clip is “Reuben and Rachel,” which dates back to 1871, and would later become a popular playground song among children. The song’s original lyrics present it as a duet, with the character of Rachel initially floating the idea of transporting all the men “far beyond the Northern Sea,” while Reuben wants more young ladies available to him on this side of the ocean. The battle of the sexes rages on throughout, but by the end, the couple decides to live together in the “land of milk and honey,” for better or worse.
Cline, who also performs her single “How Can I Face Tomorrow,” along with “Lovesick Blues” and a duet with Copas on “I’m Hogtied Over You,” also endures an awkward (and perhaps vaguely sexist) ad-lib from the host toward the end of the show. As Valli tells Arnold she wants to sing with the rest of the guests, Arnold invites Copas, then Cline, to join them onstage. When she does, dressed in light-colored slacks, Arnold quips, “Lord help us, where’d you get those pants?” Wisely declining to reply, Patsy instead joins them in the playful song, which is supplemented by some silly choreography that scarcely fits the tough, no-nonsense image for which Cline became world-famous. Still, she appears to enjoy herself and gets the last laugh as she drags Copas offstage by the ear.
Ozark Jubilee (which would also be known as Jubilee U.S.A. and Country Music Jubilee during its network TV run) debuted in January 1955, live on ABC from Springfield, Missouri. Regularly hosted by Red Foley, it became the first network music series to spotlight country superstars and ran for five years and eight months, making it the longest-surviving network TV series solely focused on country music performances. The program even beat the venerable Grand Ole Opry to a live network series by a year. A May 1956 ratings survey in Billboard revealed that the show was the most-viewed non-sports-related network program among males that month.
The full June 4th episode of is available to view here.