Patsy Cline (Virginia Patterson Hensley, Winchester, Virginia, September 8, 1932 – March 5, 1963) was an American country music singer. Part of the late 1950s and early 1960s Nashville sound, Cline successfully "crossed over" to pop music and was one of the most influential, successful and acclaimed vocalists of the 20th century. She died in 1963, at the age of 30, in a crash of the private plane of her manager, Randy Hughes, that also killed other country music singers Hawkshaw Hawkins and Cowboy Copas.
Cline was known for her rich tone, emotionally expressive and bold contralto voice, and her role as a country music industry pioneer. Along with Kitty Wells, she helped pave the way for women as headline performers in the genre. She overcame poverty, an unsuccessful marriage, a devastating automobile accident, and significant professional obstacles, and has been cited as an inspiration by Reba McEntire, LeAnn Rimes, and other singers in diverse styles. Books, movies, documentaries, articles and stage plays document her life and career.
Her hits began in 1957 with Donn Hecht's and Alan Block's "Walkin' After Midnight," Hank Cochran's and Harlan Howard's "I Fall to Pieces," Hank Cochran's "She's Got You," Willie Nelson's "Crazy" and ended in 1963 with Don Gibson's "Sweet Dreams."
Millions of her records have sold since her death. She won awards and accolades, causing many to view her as an icon at the level of Jim Reeves, Johnny Cash and Elvis Presley. In 1973, ten years after her death, she became the first female solo artist inducted into the Country Music Hall of Fame. In 1999, she was voted number 11 on VH1's special, The 100 Greatest Women in Rock and Roll, by members and artists of the rock industry. In 2002, country music artists and industry members voted her Number One on CMT's The 40 Greatest Women of Country Music and ranked 46th in the "100 Greatest Singers of All Time" issue of Rolling Stone magazine. According to her 1973 Country Music Hall of Fame plaque, "Her heritage of timeless recordings is testimony to her artistic capacity."
Cline was the last name of her first husband, Gerald Cline, a construction industry mogul, whom she married in 1953 and divorced in 1957. That same year, Cline married Charles Allen Dick, who worked as a linotype operator for the Winchester Star. They had a daughter, Julia Dick (b. 1958), and a son, Allen Randolph Dick (b. 1961).
Cline is interred in the Shenandoah Memorial Park cemetery in her hometown of Winchester, Virginia.
Among her many honors, she has a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame at 6160 Hollywood Blvd, she was elected to the Country Music Hall of Fame in 1973, in 1993 she was honored with her image on a United States postage stamp and in 1995, she was awarded posthumously a Grammy Lifetime Achievement Award.
The 1985 movie Sweet Dreams, starring Jessica Lange as Cline, is based on her adult life and is said by some familiar with her to be fairly accurate in many respects, although some have disputed its portrayal of her mercurial relationship with second husband Charlie Dick (portrayed in the film by Ed Harris). However, its depiction of the plane crash as occurring in high desert mountains totally unlike any terrain found in West Tennessee is wildly inaccurate. Another adaptation of her life is the one-woman musical, "A Closer Walk with Patsy Cline" which originated in Canada in the 1990s and originally starred Louise Vallance as Cline. "I Fall to Pieces" was voted #107 on the RIAA list of the Songs of the Century.
In 2005 her album "Patsy Cline's Greatest Hits" was certified by the RIAA as Diamond, meaning it had reached sales of 10 million copies.
In 1980 Patsy Cline was portrayed in the film Coal Miner's Daughter by actress Beverly D'Angelo. The film displayed the close friendship Cline had with fellow country music singer, Loretta Lynn. Despite the amount of songs by Patsy Cline used in the film, D'Angelo did all her own singing.