Although she’s now mostly just remembered by her loyal fans, singer Molly Bee, who died in 2009, enjoyed a varied if sometimes troubled career that stretched across five decades. Along the way, she was at stages a child star, a teen idol, and a successful country music singer.
Born in Oklahoma as Mollie Gene Beachboard, she was raised in Tennessee and Arizona, where — at age ten — she caught the attention of cowboy star Rex Allen by singing Hank Williams’ “Lovesick Blues.” After she gained experience as a featured singer on Rex’s radio show, her family moved to Hollywood, where Molly began to appear on regional radio and early TV.
During the early Fifties she became so popular on TV’s Hometown Jamboree that it was sometimes referred to as the ‘Molly Bee Show’, and she also often appeared on the Pinky Lee Show. She was soon signed by Capitol Records, and her 1952 recording of the novelty tune, “I Saw Mommy Kissing Santa Claus,” charted almost as highly as Jimmy Boyd’s more famous version.
Working for Capitol led to another of the label’s stars, Tennessee Ernie Ford, who paired up with her on a few records and also enlisted her for his own national TV show. She would continue to work with Ford for many years (you can see her hamming it up with him and Merle Travis in the video below) but she was also soon to become a different kind of star — a teen idol. With several hit records to her credit, along with countless appearances on a variety of TV programs, fans flocked to her live shows in record setting numbers. The pony-tailed teen also began showing up in a few movies, and dating guys like Tommy Sands.
Although things were going well for Molly as the Sixties began, her career was on a roller coaster at times, and by the end of the decade she was not only struggling professionally but had also developed a drug problem. However, by the mid-Seventies she’d rebuilt her life and had emerged as a mature and polished country music singer, generating a number of solid records. In later years she would continue to perform from time to time, and even had her own night club for a while before eventually retiring.
Molly Bee – “How’s The World Treating You”