What is singer Jimmy Dean doing these days?
—Angela M., California
Jimmy Dean, the 76-year-old country singer, actor and sausage king from Plainview, Texas (pop. 22,336), is enjoying a high profile: His CD, The Best of Jimmy Dean, was released last summer, and his new autobiography, Thirty Years of Sausage . . . Fifty Years of Ham, which he co-wrote with wife Donna, came out in October. The book details his career, which included a network TV show, hit songs such as Big Bad John, Dear Ivan, Bummin' Around and Cajun Queen in the 1950s and '60s, and founding the Jimmy Dean Meat Co. in 1968. "I hope some younger people from the other side of the tracks like me will read it and say, ‘Well, if he did it, I can,'" says Dean, who lives near Richmond, Va. "My granddaddy never made $10,000 a year in his life, but he was the best farmer in Swisher County, Texas. His fences were straighter, his barn was redder, he raised nine great kids, and had a marvelous relationship with the Man upstairs—thereby, peace of mind. You want to talk about success and wealth, that's it."