“Tennessee Waltz,” her biggest selling record, was a fluke.
Because Christmas was approaching, Mercury Records wanted Miss Page to record “Boogie Woogie Santa Claus” in 1950.
Miss Page and Rael got hold of “Tennessee Waltz,” convinced that a pop artist could make a smash hit out of it. Mercury agreed to put it on the B-side of the Christmas song.
“Mercury wanted to concentrate on a Christmas song, and they didn’t want anything with much merit on the flip side,” Miss Page said. “They didn’t want any disc jockeys to turn the Christmas record over. The title of that great Christmas song was “Boogie Woogie Santa Claus,” and no one ever heard of it.”
“Tennessee Waltz” became the first pop tune that crossed over into a big country hit.
The waltz was on the charts for 30 weeks, 12 of them in the top 10, and eventually sold more than 10 million copies, behind only “White Christmas” by Bing Crosby at the time.
She went on to record such hits as “Doggie in the Window,” ”Mockin’ Bird Hill,” ”Hush, Hush, Sweet Charlotte” and “Allegheny Moon.” She teamed with George Jones on “You Never Looked That Good When You Were Mine.”
In films Miss Page co-starred with Burt Lancaster in his Oscar-winning appearance of “Elmer Gantry,” and she appeared in “Dondi” with David Janssen and in “Boy’s Night Out” with James Garner and Kim Novak.
She also starred onstage in the musical comedy “Annie Get Your Gun.”
She received the Pioneer Award by the Academy of Country Music in 1980 and also was elected to CMA’s board of directors. She also is a member of the Oklahoma Hall of Fame.
In her later career, Miss Page and husband Jerry Filiciotto spent half the year living in Southern California and half in an 1830s farmhouse in New Hampshire. He died in 2009.
Miss Page is survived by her son, Daniel O’Curran, daughter Kathleen Ginn and sister Peggy Layton.