Today is Tuesday, August 22, 2017

Dolly turned theme park into tourist gold

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Dear Ken: What year did Dolly Parton come to Nashville from Sevier County, Tennessee? What year did she open Dollywood? Is she still married to Carl Dean?

Parton, 63, came to Nashville in 1964, right after she graduated from high school. She and Dean have been married for 43 years.

Her theme park was renamed Dollywood in1986 when she became a partner in the tourist site. It opened in 1961 as Rebel Railroad and went through several evolutions and name changes, including Goldrush Junction, Junction and Silver Dollar City Tennessee.

Dear Ken: How old are Patrick Macnee and Diana Riggs, the two stars of the 1960s British TV series “The Avengers?”

Macnee is 87. The World War II vet served in the Royal Navy but has been an American citizen since 1959.

Rigg will be 71 on July 20. Born in Yorkshire, she spent her early childhood years in India. She was knighted in 1994, making her Dame Diana Rigg.

Dear Ken: Did singer Mama Cass Elliot of Mamas & Papas fame really die from choking on a ham sandwich?

No. Elliot died in London on July 29, 1974, of fatty myocardial degeneration due to obesity. Basically, she died of heart failure in her sleep. She was 32.

The sandwich rumor came from speculation by gossip columnists after police reported they found a partially eaten sandwich in her room. In fact, the sandwich beside her bed has not been touched, and the coroner’s report showed no food found in her trachea. 

Dear Ken: Where was Harrison Ford born? How many children does he have?

Harrison J. Ford, 67, was born in Chicago and was very active in the Boy Scouts. He has four children and was a master carpenter before he became a movie star. He built the ranch house on his land in Jackson Hole, Wyo. A plane and helicopter pilot, Ford has a scar on his chin from crashing his car into a telephone pole  while trying to buckle his seat belt.

Dear Ken: How many movies did Margaret Hamilton make? She played the Wicked Witch of the West in “The Wizard of Oz”? How did she die?

Hamilton died at age 82 in 1985 of a heart attack. The former kindergarten teacher made 70 films and appeared on such TV shows as “The Addams Family,” “The Phil Silvers Show“ and “Mister Rogers Neighborhood.”

She used to relate the story about her agent calling her about a role in “The Wizard of Oz,” and she said, “Oh, I loved reading those books to my kindergarten children. Which role?” Her agent told her, “The witch.” Hamilton said, “The witch?” and the agent replied, “Yes, what else?”      If you have a trivia question about actors, singers, movies, TV shows or pop culture, e-mail your query to Ken Beck via where you can also find classic films and TV shows on DVD or visit Sherlock’s Book Emporium in Lebanon, Tennessee.

Ask Ken Beck

Journalist Ken Beck, a longtime resident of Wilson  County, has recently become a contributing writer for Main Street Media and its local newspaper, "The Wilson Post."

Earlier this year Beck concluded a 31-year career with "The Tennessean" where he edited the Nashville paper’s “Sunday Showcase” entertainment magazine for 25 years. Besides interviewing stars of film and television, Beck wrote Tennessee travel and feature stories and a popular Q&A entertainment column.

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