Western Swing Music Society

Vancouver, BC Canada

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Spade CooleyNewsletter: Spring 2009, Volume 17 No 1 & 2


The book and the movie

by Alan Morgan

      Back in  2001 my article The Spade Cooley Story appeared in the December issue of the WSMS Newsletter.  This article told the story of Spade Cooley's rise from poverty to Hollywood celebrity in the 1940 s and 1950 s with hit recordings, movie roles and a long running TV series. 

Spade and Ella Mae      Tragedy struck in 1961 when Cooley murdered his wife in a drunken rage in front of their teenage daughter.  While serving a prison sentence he died of a heart attack.   In my article I stated that it was surprising that a movie has not been made of this fascinating subject.  Since writing the article, a leading author has written a book and a Hollywood movie has started production.   However, both of these ventures have been struck by the Cooley curse.

      Author, Susan Van Hecke writer of the Gene Vincent biography Race With The Devil and writer and critic for the Washington Post and Goldmine completed her new book in 2003. Swingin'  The Devils Dream – Life of Spade Cooley, The King Of Western Swing was to be published in March 2003 by Acorn Music Corp.   Unfortunately, the book was not released as planned.  Later in 2003 Schirmer Publications announced it would release the book in 2004.  However, this was not to be, and we are still waiting for this book to appear on the shelves of our book sellers.

      Late in 2004 Hollywood movie actor, Dennis Quaid announced that he would perform multiple duties for a film on the life of Spade Cooley titled, Shame On You.  Quaid will star as Spade Cooley and Katie Holmes will co-star as the unfortunate Mrs. Cooley. 

      The film will follow the tumultuous life of Spade Cooley and the murder of his wife.   Holly Wiersma is the producer and the multi-talented Dennis Quaid wrote the script and will direct the movie.  However, the Cooley curse struck once again when publicity concerning Katie Holmes' relationship with Tom Cruise stopped production.   Eventually production resumed and the movie was planned for a 2008 release.   Katie Holmes and Tom Cruise were now married and expecting a child.   Of course this pregnancy again halted production, the latest news from Hollywood is that the movie will be released in 2010.

      After the 1961 scandal, Spade Cooley recordings were discontinued as re-issues. Thankfully we can now enjoy his music on re-issue CD s. 

      Hopefully the dreaded Cooley curse will be  lifted and we will soon enjoy the book and the movie on the King Of Western Swing.

V5K 1M3                

Contact – John York  email or phone: 604-299-2301