Minnie Pearl,83, whose homespun humor and shrill...

DEATHS ELSEWHERE

March 06, 1996

Minnie Pearl,83, whose homespun humor and shrill "Howdyyyyy!" made her the first country comedian known worldwide, died Monday in Nashville.

Miss Pearl, who was forced to give up performing after suffering a stroke in 1991, was admitted to a hospital in Nashville on Feb. 25 for a brain seizure or stroke.

Her boisterous, cheerful "Howdyyyyy! I'm just so proud to be here!", her wide-brimmed straw hat with its dangling $1.98 price tag, her toothy grin and her calico and gingham dresses were her trademarks on more than a half-century on the Grand Ole Opry country music show and 20 years on the syndicated television show "Hee Haw."

Much of her humor focused on a long-standing search for a "feller." A typical quip: "Kissing a feller with a beard is like a picnic. You don't mind going through a little brush to get there."

"Minnie Pearl" was a happy, hopeless character created from a composite of several women she had known early in her life.

In contrast to her stage role, Miss Pearl, whose real name was Sarah Ophelia Cannon, was gracious, cultured and sensitive.

Pub Date: 3/06/96

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