NASHVILLE — Unforgettable songs like “Tennessee Waltz” and “(How Much Is That) Doggie in the Window?” made Patti Page the best-selling female singer of the 1950s.
When unspecified health problems finally stopped her decades of touring, though, Page wrote a sad-but-resolute letter to her fans late last year about the change.
“Although I feel I still have the voice God gave me, physical impairments are preventing me from using that voice as I had for so many years,” Page wrote. “It is only He who knows what the future holds.”
Page died on New Year’s Day in Encinitas, Calif., according to publicist Schatzi Hageman. Page, 85, was five weeks away from being honored at the Grammy Awards with a Lifetime Achievement Award.
Page achieved several career milestones in American pop culture, but she’ll be remembered for indelible hits that crossed the artificial categorizations of music and remained atop the charts for months to reach a truly national audience.
“Tennessee Waltz” scored the rare achievement of reaching No. 1 on the pop, country and R&B charts simultaneously and was officially adopted as one of two official songs by the state of Tennessee. Two other hits, “I Went To Your Wedding” and “Doggie in the Window,” which had a second life for decades as a children’s song, each spent more than two months at No. 1.
She was the first singer to have television programs on all three major networks. In films, Page co-starred with Burt Lancaster in his Oscar-winning characterization of “Elmer Gantry.”