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Lot 23: Cline, Patsy. Extensive archive of handwritten letters.

Historical Auction 84

by Profiles in History

April 18, 2016

Calabasas, CA, USA

Live Auction
Sold
  • Cline, Patsy. Extensive archive of handwritten letters.
  • Cline, Patsy. Extensive archive of handwritten letters.
  • Cline, Patsy. Extensive archive of handwritten letters.
  • Cline, Patsy. Extensive archive of handwritten letters.
  • Cline, Patsy. Extensive archive of handwritten letters.
  • Cline, Patsy. Extensive archive of handwritten letters.
  • Cline, Patsy. Extensive archive of handwritten letters.
  • Cline, Patsy. Extensive archive of handwritten letters.
  • Cline, Patsy. Extensive archive of handwritten letters.
  • Cline, Patsy. Extensive archive of handwritten letters.
  • Cline, Patsy. Extensive archive of handwritten letters.
  • Cline, Patsy. Extensive archive of handwritten letters.
  • Cline, Patsy. Extensive archive of handwritten letters.
  • Cline, Patsy. Extensive archive of handwritten letters.
  • Cline, Patsy. Extensive archive of handwritten letters.
  • Cline, Patsy. Extensive archive of handwritten letters.
  • Cline, Patsy. Extensive archive of handwritten letters.
  • Cline, Patsy. Extensive archive of handwritten letters.
  • Cline, Patsy. Extensive archive of handwritten letters.
  • Cline, Patsy. Extensive archive of handwritten letters.
  • Cline, Patsy. Extensive archive of handwritten letters.
  • Cline, Patsy. Extensive archive of handwritten letters.
  • Cline, Patsy. Extensive archive of handwritten letters.
  • Cline, Patsy. Extensive archive of handwritten letters.
  • Cline, Patsy. Extensive archive of handwritten letters.
  • Cline, Patsy. Extensive archive of handwritten letters.
  • Cline, Patsy. Extensive archive of handwritten letters.
  • Cline, Patsy. Extensive archive of handwritten letters.
   
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Description:

23. Cline, Patsy.

From Small-Time Country Performer to National Superstar: The Handwritten Letters of Patsy Cline to Marie Flynt – a deeply personal correspondence sharing her triumphs and tragedies, dealing with her new-found fame, life on tour, and her abusive home life.

As her most recent single “Crazy” rises to the top of the charts, domestic troubles – the inspiration to this song – have pushed Patsy Cline to formally ask for a divorce from her husband: “I’m fed up, don’t care if I ever see this man again, unhappy, tired of trying, sick, and tired of being hurt & used. I’m just plain Don’t give a dam any more…So I’ve ask for a divorce. Again tonight I said when I finish this trip in Calif I’m going to a lawyer soon as I get back. Now he’s begging me to stay with him. But I’m finished with trying, crying, begging, and there’s nothing left to be hurt any more…”

In 1959, up-and-coming Country & Western star Patsy Cline made a last-minute appearance at a Maryland nightclub after superstar Kitty Wells declined to perform. As the story goes, Wells had some disagreement over the club’s liquor license, and Patty – always ready to sing and make a buck – stepped in. A family-owned club, one of the sisters was a young woman by the name of Marie Flynt. An aspiring singer herself, she met Cline and the two became fast friends. Such began the warm and intimate correspondence that would span the next four years, until Patty’s tragic death in a horrible plane crash.

The following archive consists of twenty letters, dating from 26 October 1959 (the first year the two met), to 6 February 1963 – less than one month before her death. Most striking, the letters are extremely personal and revealing in nature, nearly all of them discussing her recording career, songs, contracts, her demanding schedule of personal appearances including many at the Grand Ole Opry, and sadly, her rocky marriage to Charlie Dick, an abusive, alcoholic husband who had the wherewithal to beat his wife in front of her fellow musicians.

The excitement with which Cline describes her first national hit and the difficult choice of recording companies (she eventually decided on Decca), the receipt of her first big paycheck ($23,000!), and her disdain of ‘pop’ music even as her promoters successfully brought her to a wider audience are vividly brought to life in Cline’s uncorrected, easy tone. We learn for the first time of the loss (by miscarriage) of a third child in 1962, her resolution to divorce Charlie Dick, and the hint of a extramarital romantic interest. Throughout, Cline maintains her sunny disposition towards life and her youthful enthusiasm for Country & Western music, even as her grueling travel schedule strains her both physically and mentally.

Patsy Cline’s resilient personality pours forth in these letters with a voice more candid and refreshing than any other source yet discovered. In 1999, a set of her earlier correspondence with a fan was published in book form. As much as these letters add to the body of knowledge about this intriguing singer, they are in no way as personal, enlightening, or sincere as those presented here. Indeed, the last letter in that particular collection is dated 22 January 1959 – a full 10 months before the first letter in this archive.

A collection of unequalled importance, these letters remain the best primary source of Patsy Cline biographical information extant.

Brief Summaries of the Letters

1.
26 October 1959. Patsy Cline lands a national T.V. ad campaign, sponsored by the military: The Coast Guard of National Guard I don’t know which is making 5 T.V. movie advertisements and I got 2 of them to do. I M.C. them and do the singing to. I guess that’s pretty good for a hill-bill gal Huh??

2. 10 August 1960. Patsy is fearful that she is going to lose her second child during a tough pregnancy, but continues to maintain a hectic schedule of appearances while agonizing over which record label to sign with: Decca, Victor, or Challenge. [She would later choose Decca.]

3.
5 December 1960. As Christmas approaches, Patsy realizes she is far from ready for Santa Claus. In the last few weeks of her pregnancy, the doctor has told her that he’ll induce labor as soon as the baby drops – which is fine by her! I’m no where near ready for Santa Clause. But I’m happy to have Charlie & Julie well and me well except for baby bearing paines which I know I’ll be over in a couple of months. He told me today as soon as I droped, he would take me on it & start me, and that’s fine with me…

4.
24 January 1961. Just hours after performing at the Grand Ole Opry, Patsy goes into labor and gives birth to a healthy baby boy. She writes from the hospital: Just a note to let you know that I’m over all the worst and we have a big boy. He was 2 weeks early and I even worked the 8:30 spot on the Opry Sat nite, go home at 11:30 and started having paines (which wasn’t bad paines & I though they were pressure paines) at 12:30…My Dr. said bring her right in here. So I got here at 9:30 a.m. & at 10:32 we had a boy…

5.
3 May 1961. Patsy’s marriage to Charlie Dick takes a turn for the worse, while her new Decca album “Patsy Cline Showcase” rockets into the top five. …On top of every thing else I was ready to get a divorce I’m tired of being left one night a week all night long & never knowing where he was. And tired of everything in all…Sun morn, he had been home 2 ½ hrs. from being out all night drunk…I’m sick of this shit…if these 2 kids weren’t here I would never have come home I’ll tell you that for sure. I’m at the point where I’m just sick in health, happiness & my mind & nerves are shot…Now! Some good news. My record is #5 in C&W and is 70 some in pop & still climbing. I’ve got a chance to be the star singer on the Don McNeill Breakfast Club Radio Network Show regularly (waiting to hear from them) and the Opry is going on T.V. Network coast to coast…

6.
August 1961. While working on her second Decca album, Patsy’s first continues to climb on all charts. Decca’s insistence that she focus on the pop music market meets with her angry refusal. I had 21 songs picked for the album plus 7 new ones for 4 singles to come out of and that dam Owen Bradley turned down everything except 2 out of 7 for the singles and 4 for the album out of 12. I could spit dust I’m so mad. And he wants to put violins (you heard me) on my new session. Still trying to get me in the pop. And I’ll die & walk out before I’ll go all the way pop…In Cash Box it’s 25 in pop. In Boll Board it’s 28 I think in pop. No. 1 in C&W…Variety it’s No. 1, C&W & in pop No. 9 & been in the top 50 of pop 20 weeks. Now don’t that blow your hat in the creek??

7.
22 August 1961. Patsy tells Marie of her busy schedule, and discusses the new recordings for her next album. So far I’ve done one side of a single (one song) and four new ones for the album (not new either). The ones so far are ‘True Love,’ ‘Way Ward Wind,’ ‘San Antonio Rose,’ and ‘Poormans Roses’ with violins. Dig that?!! The only think I’ve done is prove I can sing pop music and I knew that, and that this way it will see to those pop fools and the pop DJs will have to play it. Anyway I’m very dam unhappy. Ha.

8. 6 September 1961. Charlie Dick accompanies his wife on the last half of a tour, causing havoc and forcing her to think more seriously about divorce. As for here, it’s the same ole thing I took him on the last half of this tour & he proceeded to get drunk every dam night…I get so dam fed up I could scream. I’m at that point again where it don’t matter where he is to me anymore. He’s just not man enough to take it is the only think I can see. I mean the having me where I am now & a wife. But I’m gonna put away as much of this money as I can & then when I get sick enough of it I’ll be able to live with out my dam man…

9.
11 October 1961. As her most recent single “Crazy” rises to the top of the charts, domestic troubles – the inspiration to this song – have pushed Patsy Cline to formally ask for a divorce from Charlie. I’m fed up, don’t care if I ever see this man again, unhappy, tired of trying, sick, and tired of being hurt & used. I’m just plain Don’t give a dam any more…So I’ve ask for a divorce. Again tonight I said when I finish this trip in Calif I’m going to a lawyer soon as I get back. Now he’s begging me to stay with him. But I’m finished with trying, crying, begging, and there’s nothing left to be hurt any more…

10.
6 December 1961. Patsy plays Carnegie Hall. The Carnegie Hall think was a smash hit. We had a full house, standing room filled and turned them away from the door 20 minutes after the curtain went up at $750 a head. How’s that for country music in New York?? Swingin, Comercial, I got four onchores in Carnegie Hall and 4 Sat. night at the Opry. The only girl in history of the Opry to get over two. So looks like at last I’m a singer…Well, I’ve found another song to record for single that Randy says is another smash hit. It’s called ‘You’re the One.’ So I hope he knows what he’s talking about.

11.
20 January 1962. Just 10 days after its release, Patsy has sold almost 250,000 copies of “She’s Got You”, thanks in part to American Bandstand host Dick Clark. Well looks like my new record is gonna make a little noise after all. It’s going in no 60 slot next week in BillBoard and they are calling it a 2 sided hit. Dick Clark is playing it and that’s a big help. It was the highest rated record he had of new releases last week…The album to date has sold 40,000 and is just now breakin big in sales. The new one (single) has sold about 250,000 copies so far and only been out a week & ½…

12. 26 February 1962. Patsy has faith that her new song “Wait Till I Get Through With You” will be a hit, and is thrilled upon receiving her first check from Decca. I’ve at last got a day or two off. Then I’ll be cutting a new single record. I believe I’ve got another one if we can get the right arrangement on it. It’s called ‘Wait Till I Get Through With You’. Some title huh?? It has an Everly Brothers beat to it like the one they had with that drum roll in it. Then put a real strong ballad on the flip side…I finally got my record check and don’t let anyone else know but I’ve just got to tell you. It was twenty three thousand dollars. I can’t get used to it yet. First I cried, the I laughed, then I prayed & thanked God, then cried & laughed some more. Boy! What a feeling…

13. 16 April 1962. With a new record out today, Patsy faces a busy performance schedule but must first answer questions from lawyers for the sixteenth time about her auto accident.

14.
8 July 1962. A long-suffering, battered wife, Patsy starts divorce proceedings against her abusive husband…I got the hell beat out of me two weeks ago and had his a - - locked up to get sober & cool off. Then I slapped him with devorice papers and he moved out for two weeks. Then with the lawyers & his begging and pleading, I went soft and let him come back. But the devorice hasn’t been dropped. I can go ahead with it anytime things don’t go like I want them to. All I have to do is pick up the phone & say ‘go ahead with it’ & it’s over in four months. So he knows I mean what I say. No drinkin and no calling me names anymore…

15. 4 August 1962.
Patsy is fearful of miscarriage during her third pregnancy, but must maintain her busy schedule of recording and touring. I don’t know if I told you or not, but I’m p.g. again and I’m in bed now trying to keep it. Had the Dr last night and he said he thought I’d lose it yet. I sure am sick I know that. I’ve got low blood and it’s kinda early after losing all that blood from the wreck he don’t think I could carry it the whole time any way. I sure didn’t want to get this way but looks like I don’t have much to say about it. I might have to go to the hospital tomorrow if I keep on this way…

16.
22 August 1962. Patsy’s music continues to do well, bringing her wealth and fame, but admits she is growing tired of recording ballads. Most remarkably, she reveals that she has lost her third child due to miscarriage. I’ve been under the covers myself in the past two weeks and really sick to. I was two mos. P.G. & lost it 2 wks ago on a Sat nite. I was never so sick in my life before. But I’m getting straightened out now again. Not enough blood and run down was the only then they could find. So I’m up and out on the road again. Been trying to get a letter wrote to you but just didn’t feel like it these last 2 wks…Well, I don’t remember if I read in your letters that you got my new album or not but I’ll send you one anyway…So N.Y. says it’s selling like wild fire. The Showcase sold 60,000 copies up till June 30th. That’s not bad Heck at 18¢ each for me? And this new one they say will do better than that. Honestly Ree, I can’t believe that I’m at long last able to make a little money off of records. I never got a check for records for 7 years that I recorded & now it’s like a dream. But I sure am greatfull for it & thank God for all these great things that have happened…My one song I found for my next session is one called ‘Why Can’t He Be You’. Another darn ballad, but Decca says that’s what they want, that that’s my way of getting thru to the people, so guess I can’t do anything else. But I sure would like to change the pace once in a while…Don Gibson has divorced his wife and Johnny Cash & June Carter are all hung up. What a mess…

17.
30 August 1962. Patsy changes to a more convenient hairstyle! “Well, don’t be surprised if you see a blonde living at my house. I am a blonde now with real long hair. Yes! It’s a little funny at first when you see me but now every one says they like it better than my real hair. It’s a wig but the hand[i]est thing I’ve got, And when I’m on the road and can’t get my hair done, I just slip the wigs on. Crazy Baby!”

18. 19 October 1962. Although the insensitive Decca A&R people are running Patsy ragged, her newest song “Heart Aches” is well on its way to becoming a hit. I had just got in from the most un godly tour of a so called promotion tour that I’ve ever been on. And as God is my witness, I’ll never go on another one ever…that Decca man canceled my plane tickets to Toronto for that nite & had me do 4 T.V. hops of nothing but jigs. And I told him I wanted to eat & stop for a drink & he said ‘Did you come here to promote or fool around & act like a star. I have my orders from my boss here & I’m going to see to it that you fill the bill.’ I got a sandwich at Midnight that nite & got to bed after 2 a.m. and cried myself silly on the phone to Randy & Rome…Well, it looks like it Heart Aches all the way dam it. They said in Philly & Detroit that this one had already sold more than Fall To Pieces did at it’s peak. I still can’t believe it. Anyway, I shouldn’t complain if it’s a hit period…

19.
22 November 1962. Patsy cleans up at the Country Music Awards. Well I guess you heard by now I got 6 awards. Two from Reporter, 2 from Vender, 1 from Cash Box & 1 from Billboard. I got more than any other female or male. I’m so proud & happy I could bust…the greatest of all Ree was Reporters ‘Star Award’ of the year. That Star Award is the greatest anyone can get. Just think women? They gave it to me. I still have to look at them all and cry. I’ve now got 14 awards all together, and nine of them are gold. Oh! They are so pretty. I wish you could see them. The Nash Tenn paper wrote up a big story on me at the convention and every time I go to any of the stores some body always sees me and say ‘Congratulations Patsy on all your awards.’ ‘We’re so happy for you’ I didn’t dream soo many people would know me…Well this trip is gonna be a dilly. Seven days a week & four shows a nite. My ass should be draggin real good by the first of the year…

20.
6 February 1963. Less than one month before her tragic death in a plane crash, Patsy Cline writes to her friend Marie Flynt that she has been traveling often via private airplane, and speaks enthusiastically of her latest album, yet to be released. Thought I’d better let you know that I’m still kicking and that I as yet don’t know how I’m gonna be traveling to that date up there, but I imagine that I’ll be coming in by plane…Some time Randy flies his own plane and takes me to my dates, and it’s less money for me when he does…I’ve been busier than a one arm man in a nest of bees…I recorded a jewel of an album this time I think. I don’t know when they will release it but they want it out as fast as possible I know. We really got some wild arrangements on some of the songs. The songs are, FADED LOVE, SOMEDAY, LOVE LETTERS IN THE SAND, BLUE MOON OF KENTUCKY, ALWAYS, SWEET DREAMS, DOES YOUR HEART BEAT FOR ME, BILL BAILEY, HE CALLED ME BABY BABY ALL NIGHT LONG, CRAZY ARMS, YOU TOOK HIM OFF MY HANDS, and I’LL SAIL MY SHIP ALONE. Well what do you think of that? Decca seems to think it will be my best L.P. yet, and I sure hope they are right because I had 22 musicians on this album for 4 nights in a row. But I believe we got a little something different this time. $18,000 - $25,000

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