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Spade Cooley
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Musician
    (December 17, 1910-November 23, 1969)
    Born in Grand, Oklahoma
    Birth name was Donnell Clyde Cooley
    Trademark songs include 'Shame on You,' 'Detour,' 'You Can't Break My Heart,' 'Crazy 'Cause I Love You' and 'I've Taken All I'm Goanna Take from You'
    Nicknamed 'the King of Western Swing'
    Host of the TV programs, 'The Hoffman Hayride' and 'The Spade Cooley Show'
    Acted in 'Rockin' in the Rockies,' 'Outlaws of the Rockies,' 'Texas Panhandle,' 'Senorita from the West,' 'Vacation Days,' 'Square Dance Jubilee,' 'Silver Bandit,' 'Border Outlaws,' and 'The Big Tip Off'
    Murdered his wife, Ella Mae Evans, over alleged infidelities on Apr. 3, 1961
    Was convicted of murder and sentenced to Life in Prison (Aug. 1961)
    He was an alcoholic with a hot temper.
    He got his nickname after winning several games of poker with a spade flush.
    He was 'discovered' on the Republic Studios lot by Roy Rogers, who noted their physical resemblance and insisted he be hired as his stand-in (they were almost identical).
    Rogers would later 'double' for Cooley, when his career declined in the 50s, by having an affair with his wife.
    His orchestra broke up at the height of its popularity when his lead vocalist, Tex Williams, demanded more money. He fired Williams and the other musicians subsequently walked.
    His new orchestra attained local popularity but failed to attract a national audience, losing ratings to the Lawrence Welk Show (it was canceled soon after).
    He tried to stage a comeback with an 'all-girl band' but failed miserably.
    In a last-ditch effort he went heavy into real estate, investing his fortune into creating a vacation park in the Mojave Desert called 'Water Wonderland.'
    The project was rife with problems from the start and the plans were eventually scrapped after it drove him into debt.
    He cheated on his wife regularly but exercised a paranoid, jealous possessiveness over his wife, frequently accusing her of participating in a 'sex cult' and holding her as his virtual prisoner.
    He violently stomped, strangled, and mutilated her in front of his 14-year-old daughter (oh, did we forget to mention he had committed incest with that same daughter?)
    He was nonchalant and zombie-like during his trial, frequently changing his story and pleading insanity.
    His connections in the B-movie industry came in handy when Ronald Reagan was elected governor. After some lobbying, the California parole board unanimously recommended his release within the year (1969).
    He referred to Roy Rogers as his 'ex-best friend' on the stand (yeah, he was pretty much out of it).
    Shortly before collapsing, he was quoted as saying I think it’s gonna work out for me! I have the feeling that today is the first day of the rest of my life!' (you can't make this stuff up)
    He was part-Cherokee and was educated at the Chemawa Indian School.
    He came from modest means (his family fled the Dust Bowl for California during the Depression).
    His record, 'Shame on You,' was #1 on the Top 40 Chart for nine weeks (1945).
    His records, 'Detour' and 'You Can't Break My Heart' were #2 and #3, respectively, on the Top 40 Chart (1946).
    His record, 'Crazy 'Cause I Love You,' ranked #4 on the Top 40 Chart (1947).
    He was one of the first major entertainers to see the potential in television and to build a successful career from it.
    He was a model prisoner who eventually expressed remorse for his actions behind bars, saying 'I was as wrong as any person can possibly be. There can be no excuse for beating anyone.'
    Four months before his release, he entertained 3,000 people at a Sheriff's Benefit and received a standing ovation. In a twist of cruel irony, he collapsed from a heart attack backstage during intermission.

Credit: BoyWiththeGreenHair


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