Patti Page was a hugely successful singer and sometime actress, and one of the earliest crossover artists to bridge country music with elegant pop. With career sales of more than 100 million records, her most famous tune is “The Tennessee Waltz,” one of the biggest-selling singles of all time.
As a child, she sang with her sisters in church. She later worked in the art department at KTUL radio in Tulsa, Okla., and was soon put on the air with a new name: Patti Page. She left Tulsa and kept the name. Her first major hit was “Confess,” reaching No. 12 on the Billboard pop chart in 1948. Produced by Mitch Miller, the song was also the first time an artist overdubbed her own background vocals. For the 1950 hit “With My Eyes Wide Open, I'm Dreaming,” the still-new use of overdubs led some charts to bill her as a “group” called the Patti Page Quartet.
In 1950 came “The Tennessee Waltz,” a song she made her own, though it had been previously released to success on the country chart by Pee Wee King. Page's version was rooted in country, but softened with strings and slowed to a romantic pace, topping the pop, country and R&B charts concurrently. More hits followed, including “Changing Partners,” “(How Much Is) That Doggie in the Window" and “Cross Over the Bridge.”
Her popularity as a singer led to frequent appearances on television, usually to perform her hits, but she also made her dramatic debut as an actress on “Playhouse 90.” She continued her new acting career with roles in the movies “Elmer Gantry” (1960) and the comedy “Boys Night Out” (1962), but her focus remained on live musical performances.
She married choreographer Charlie O'Curran in 1956, adopting two children, before divorcing in the early '70s. Page and her second husband, Jerry Filiciotto, ran a maple syrup business in New Hampshire until his death in 2009.
In 2007, the White Stripes released a cover of the 1948 Page hit “Conquest” (written by Corky Robbins) on the band's “Icky Thump” album, retaining the original's distinctive Spanish horn intro. Page, meanwhile, continued to perform into her 80s, and in 2009 she published a book, “This Is My Song: A Memoir.”
A few months before her death on New Year's Day 2013, Page posted a message on her official website explaining her cutback in personal appearances, telling fans that she was facing “several medical challenges. Throughout my life I never really gave much thought to my senior years. I was always able to hop on a plane, go out on stage and make music with the band. At this point I am no longer able to do that.”