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June Carter Cash

Mostly Credited As: June Carter Cash
Sometimes Credited As: June Carter
June Cash
Valerie June Carter Cash
The Carter Family
Carter Family

Birth Name: Valerie June Carter
Date Of Birth: June 23, 1929 (Age 73)
Country Of Birth: USA
Birth Place: Maces Springs, Scott County, Virginia
Date Of Death: May 15, 2003
Cause Of Death: Heart surgery complications in Nashville, TN
Height: 5' 5 ½" (1.66 m)

June Carter Cash


For much of her life, Cash could have played second fiddle in a famous family. Instead, she shaped herself into a star in her own right, although she often put her family obligations ahead of career.

Her mother, aunt and uncle, performing as the Carter Family, were a pioneering force in country music's leap from regional sound to mainstream popular music in the 1920s. Hits such as "Will the Circle Be Unbroken?" and "Keep on the Sunny Side" made them royalty in the field. And when she became June Carter Cash, her husband's status again put her in a supporting role.

Valerie June Carter was born in Maces Springs, Va., on June 23, 1929, the second of three daughters to Mother Maybelle Carter, one of the founding members of the Carter Family trio, and Ezra Carter, a farmer. Young June was quickly brought into the family music circle and learned to play the autoharp. By the time she was 10, she and her sisters, Anita and Helen Carter, and their cousin, Janette Carter, were performing on the radio shows that beamed the family's music across much of rural America.

The elder Carters would typically perform traditional music and originals by A.P. Carter such as "Wildwood Flower," while the second-generation females would do versions of the day's hits as well as novelty tunes. By 1943, the original Carter act had disbanded, and the new incarnation of the family act — Mother Maybelle and the Carter Sisters — became a staple of radio and the Nashville stage.

By the 1950s, June Carter had established herself enough to become a solo artist, and she spent a year as an opening act for Elvis Presley. As a signature performer on the Grand Ole Opry radio show, she was not just a dynamic singer, but also a firebrand comic presence, with her playful lyrics and stage banter. She was married twice in the 1950s, first to honky-tonk singer Carl Smith, a relationship that led to the birth of daughter Rebecca, and then to Edwin "Rip" Nix, which produced another daughter, Rozanna, or Rosie. Both would take their mother's maiden name and perform music themselves, with the most success belonging to the eldest, performing under the name Carlene Carter.

The lasting love of her life, however, would be singer Johnny Cash, whom she married in March 1968. Their son, John Carter Cash, was born in 1970.

Presley had introduced June to the music of Cash, his label-mate briefly at Sun Records, in the mid-1950s, and after a chance meeting at the Opry late in that decade the future couple agreed to work together. By 1961 she was touring with Cash. Soon, Mother Maybelle and the other Carters joined the troupe of the famed "Man in Black."

June Carter Cash retired from her solo career with the marriage to Cash (although her solo album debut, Appalachian Pride, would not be formally released until 1975). The marriage was volatile in the early years as her husband grappled with drug addiction, but through the decades they became a famously devoted pair.

Her husband wrote of her in his autobiography: "What June did for me was post signs along the way, lift me when I was weak, encourage me when I was discouraged, and love me when I was alone and felt unlovable. She is the greatest woman I have ever known. Nobody else, except my mother, comes close."

Carter studied acting in the 1950s with director Elia Kazan and instructor Lee Strasberg. Besides her stage time on the Johnny Cash Show TV program, launched in 1969, she appeared in numerous television movies as well as such series as Gunsmoke, Little House on the Prairie and Dr. Quinn, Medicine Woman. She also appeared in Robert Duvall's 1997 film The Apostle.

Through the years, her family connections and her own career gave Cash a fascinating trove of encounters. She was the godmother to Randall Hank Williams, better known as Hank Williams Jr., was a close friend of Patsy Cline and taught Presley how to tune a guitar.

In 1996, during a Johnny Cash show in a West Hollywood club, she performed a song she had written that spoke to her odyssey. The poignant "I Used to Be Somebody" reflected on the passings of friends (it mentions Presley, James Dean and Tennessee Williams, among others) and the fickle nature of fame.

Ironically, the song about faded glory earned her a career revival some 30 years after her retirement as a solo artist. The performance led directly to a new record deal and the 1999 album Press On. The collection won a Grammy as best folk album, the only solo Grammy of her career.

"I've been really happy just traveling with John and being Mrs. Johnny Cash all these years," she told The Times in a 1999 interview. "But I'm also really happy and surprised that someone wanted me to make another album, and I'm real proud of what I've done."

June succumbed to complications from heart surgery in 2003. Her beloved soul mate and husband, Johnny Cash passed away only a few months later.

TV Appearances

Main cast 
The Johnny Cash Show (1969)As: Herself
Episode Cast Credits 

E! True Hollywood Story (1996) 
  Johnny Cash 02x15: (Jun/28/1998) As Herself 

Dr. Quinn, Medicine Woman (1993) 
  The Most Fatal Disease 05x16: (Feb/01/1997) As Sister Ruth 
  Thanksgiving 03x10: (Nov/19/1994) As Sister Ruth 
  Saving Souls 02x05: (Nov/13/1993) As Sister Ruth 

Saturday Night Live (1975) 
  Harry Anderson/Bryan Adams 10x13: (Feb/09/1985) As Herself, [Uncredited]

Barbara Mandrell and the Mandrell Sisters (1980) 
  Season 2, Episode 16 02x16: (Feb/27/1982) As Herself 

The Grammys (1959) 
  The 22nd Annual Grammy Awards 22x01: (Feb/27/1980) As Herself 

Little House on the Prairie (1974) (1974) 
  The Collection 03x01: (Sep/27/1976) As Mattie Hodgekiss, [Special Guest Stars]

The Flip Wilson Show (1970) 
  Johnny Cash, June Carter, Bill Russell, Albert Brooks 03x13: (Dec/14/1972) As Herself 
  James Brown, Johnny Cash, June Carter 02x19: (Jan/27/1972) As Herself 

The Glen Campbell Goodtime Hour (1969) 
  Johnny Cash, June Carter Cash, Jerry Reed 04x15: (Jan/11/1972) As Herself 
  Johnny Cash, June Carter Cash, Bob Newhart, Jackie DeShannon 03x07: (Nov/01/1970) As Herself 
  Johnny Cash, June Carter Cash, Bob Newhart, Vicki Carr 01x12: (Apr/23/1969) As Herself 

The Jim Nabors Hour (1969) 
  Season 2, Episode 25 02x25: (Mar/11/1971) As Herself 

This Is Tom Jones (1969) 
  Episode #2.9 02x09: (Nov/20/1969) As Herself 

The Johnny Cash Show (1969) 
  Season 1, Episode 3 01x03: (Jun/21/1969) As Herself 

The Adventures of Jim Bowie (1956) 
  Country Girl 02x15: (Dec/13/1957) As Rachel 
  Pearls of Talimeco 02x10: (Nov/08/1957) As guest star 

Gunsmoke (1955) 
  The Man Who Would Be Marshal 02x37: (Jun/15/1957) As Clarise 

Grand Ole Opry (1955) (1955) 
  Season 1, Episode 11 01x11: (Apr/28/1956) As Herself, [Musical Guests]
Featured Songs

Push, Nevada Songs:
The Amount + Ring Of Fire 
Deadwood Songs:
Suffer the Little Children + Will The Circle Be Unbroken 
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Trivia

In April of 2003, June appeared on the CMT Flameworthy Awards to accept an award in honor of Johnny Cash.

In 2001, due to heart trouble, June was fitted with a pacemaker.

In 1987, June published the memoir, From the Heart.

In 1979, June published an autobiography called Among My Klediments.

In 1975, June released her first solo album, Appalachian Pride.

In 1970, June and Johnny won a Grammy for Best Country Performance by a Duo or Group with Vocal for "If I Were a Carpenter."

In April of 1968, Johnny proposed to June onstage at a concert in London, Ontario.

In 1958, June appeared in the film Country Music Holiday.

June was an accomplished autoharp player.

June was a member of the Grand Ole Opry.

More Trivia
June Carter Cash Quotes

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