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Country Music Hall of Fame and Museum Opens Minnie Pearl: Centennial Celebration

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Minnie Pearl 50th Opry AppearanceNashville, TN -- Minnie Pearl: Centennial Celebration, a spotlight exhibit on one of the most beloved comedic figures of the twentieth century, will be unveiled August 10 at the Country Music Hall of Fame® and Museum. The exhibit, which celebrates the 100th birthday of Minnie Pearl, the beloved character created by Sarah Ophelia Colley Cannon, is located within the museum’s permanent exhibition and will run through August 2013.

Minnie Pearl—the hilarious small-town spinster who wore straw hats (with the price tag attached) and gingham dresses and shared stories from her mythical hometown of Grinder’s Switch—made her Grand Ole Opry debut in 1940. Her role on the Opry and numerous network TV appearances helped secure her place as the queen of country comedy. Cannon, the woman behind Minnie, was born October 25, 1912, in Centerville, Tennessee. Known for her philanthropic generosity, she was a breast cancer survivor who lent her name to Nashville’s Sarah Cannon Cancer Center and Sarah Cannon Research Center.

Cannon died in 1996 following a series of strokes, but the Minnie Pearl character lives on. Among the artifacts on display in Minnie Pearl: Centennial Celebration are:

  • A script of Minnie Pearl’s 1957 network television debut as the featured guest on NBC’s This Is Your Life.
  • A Family Feud trophy from when she and her team of fellow Opry stars—Bill Anderson, Dottie West, Boxcar Willie and Porter Wagoner—won the week-long “Grand Ole Opry vs. Soap Opry Special.”
  • A twelfth-grade report card from Hickman County High School for Sarah Ophelia Colley.
  • The American Cancer Society’s John C. Tune Award for Sarah Cannon’s efforts to educate the public about breast cancer.
  • A statuette of appreciation from the dog training school Guiding Eyes for the Blind.
  • A gingham dress with lace trim—typical of Minnie Pearl’s down-home style.
  • The September 1945 issue of Minnie Pearl’s Grinder’s Switch Gazette, the comedian’s monthly tabloid newspaper, which included gossip, humor and news about other Opry stars.

In addition to the year-long exhibit, the museum will host a pair of programs on Saturday, October 27, to commemorate Minnie’s birthday. At noon, the museum will offer a special “birthday party” family program, in which youths and their parents are invited to celebrate with Minnie: Cindy Moore, as Minnie Pearl, will host a celebration featuring birthday cake, joke-telling and more. Following the party, the museum will host a panel discussion about memories of Minnie Pearl. Admission to the birthday party is free. The panel discussion is included with museum admission and free to museum members. Visit http://countrymusichalloffame.org/ for complete admission details.

Spotlight exhibits are narratives that supplement themes or aspects of the museum’s core exhibition, Sing Me Back Home: A Journey Through Country Music. These short-term, informal displays either provide a closer look at a particular person, group or aspect of country music, or spotlight recently donated items or special anniversaries. Rotated often, spotlight exhibits also offer a glimpse into the museum’s unique collection, which includes recorded discs, historical photographs, films and videotapes; thousands of posters, books, songbooks, periodicals and sheet music; personal artifacts such as performers’ instruments, costumes and accessories; and more.

Other current spotlight exhibits focus on Bobby Braddock, Jack Greene, Reba McEntire, Jean Shepard and Taylor Swift.

Museum programs are made possible, in part, by grants from the Metropolitan Nashville Arts Commission and by an agreement between the Tennessee Arts Commission and the National Endowment for the Arts. and Museum. The exhibit, which celebrates the 100th birthday of Minnie Pearl, the beloved character created by Sarah Ophelia Colley Cannon, is located within the museum’s permanent exhibition and will run through August 2013.

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