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Biography

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Overview (4)

Date of Birth 10 April 1921Erick, Oklahoma, USA
Date of Death 16 September 2003Nashville, Tennessee, USA  (leukemia)
Birth NameShelby F. Wooley
Height 6' 2" (1.88 m)

Mini Bio (1)

American character actor in many Westerns, Sheb Wooley was also a figure in country-western music. Born and raised in Oklahoma, he spent his youth as a cowhand. His musical ability led to radio and subsequently film work. He played minor supporting roles for a dozen years starting in 1950, including one of the Frank Miller gang in High Noon (1952). In 1958 he had a giant hit record with his own song "The Purple People Eater" (years later there was a movie made based on the song, Purple People Eater (1988)) and he followed it with a string of similar humorous country ditties, often recorded under the name Ben Colder. For a number of years he had a regular role as scout Pete Nolan on the hit TV series Rawhide (1959). He worked infrequently as an actor after that, concentrating on the music business.

- IMDb Mini Biography By: Jim Beaver <jumblejim@prodigy.net>

Spouse (1)

Linda S. Dotson (31 January 1985 - 16 September 2003) (his death) (2 children)

Trivia (8)

His wife Linda was also his manager.
Awarded Comedian of the Year by the Country Music Association in 1968.
Formed his own radio band, The Plainview Melody Boys, at the age 15.
The running lyric to Sheb's huge novelty song hit went like this: "It was a one-eyed, one-horned, flying purple people eater." It spent six weeks at No. 1 and sold 3 million copies in 1958. Other silly songs included "Talk Back Blubbering Lips," "Sunday Morning Fallin' Down," "Harper Valley PTA (Later That Same Day)," "The Happiest Squirrel in the Whole U.S.A." and "Fifteen Beers Ago." He also recorded the parody "Don't Go Near the Eskimos," based on Rex Allen's 1962 hit "Don't Go Near the Indians.".
Was one of the four gunslingers who stalked Gary Cooper in the western film classic High Noon (1952) (for the record, the others were Ian MacDonald, Robert J. Wilke, Lee Van Cleef).
It is believed that he may be the person who recorded the famous Wilhelm Scream for the movie Distant Drums (1951). He was one of the few actors assembled for the recording of additional vocal elements for the film. It is very likely he was asked on the spot to perform other things for the film, including the screams for a "man getting bit by an alligator" (as the Wilhelm Scream takes were slated).
He got the idea for his hit song, Purple People Eater, when a friend of his mentioned that his young son came home from elementary school with a joke he had heard: "What has one eye, one horn, flies and eats people?" "A one-eyed, one-horned flying people eater!".
In 1969 Wooley was one of the original members of the cast of Hee Haw (1969), the-long running country slapstick series. He also wrote the familiar theme song. He left the show after only filming 13 episodes due to other professional demands. He returned from time to time as a guest.

Personal Quotes (2)

I came out to Hollywood to become a singing cowboy but when I got here in 1950 they didn't want any singing cowboys, even if you had your own guitar. So I got into the other end of the cowboy business and played mostly heavies in my film career.
[on how he got the idea for his "Purple People Eater" hit song] The Space Age was upon us. Everyone was thinking about rockets and wondering if maybe we would find people up there. A songwriter friend of mine told me his son had come home from school with a joke about a people eater from space. I wrote the song in a matter of minutes--just dashed it off as a sort of afterthought.

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