13 Things You Didn't Know About Country Sweetheart June Carter Cash
Her first name was Valerie. June went by her middle name. June was born in Maces Spring, Virginia.
Music was the family business. The Carter Family Band was a well-known musical act already, made up of June's mother Maybelle, her brother-in-law A.P., and his wife Sara. Years into the act, the Carter children began accompanying the trio on the radio. June joined at age 10. When the band broke up, Maybelle launched "Maybelle and the Carter Sisters" with June and her sisters Anita and Helen.
June felt she was the weakest singer of her family. She believed she had to work harder on her music than her sisters did, but her personality and natural comedic abilities shone on stage. June could make anyone laugh. She became known for her routines, including her "Aunt Polly" act. She was also a trained dancer.
She was the first Carter singer with a Top 10 single. June, Jethro, and Homer sang a chart-topping humorous rendition of "Baby, It's Cold Outside."
She could have been an actress. Elia Kazan, director of On the Waterfront, saw June on stage and encouraged her to take acting classes. She trained in New York with renowned acting coaches, and was said to have enormous natural talent. You can see her on The Apostle, Gunsmoke, Dr. Quinn, Medicine Woman, and more.
Her acting career led to the famous biopic. While on set for Dr. Quinn, she became friends with Jane Seymour. Johnny asked Seymour's husband, director James Keach, to make a movie about his life. That was the spark that eventually became Oscar-winning Walk the Line, starring Joaquin Phoenix and Reese Witherspoon.
June approved of Reese Witherspoon playing her on the big screen. Even though the movie about her famous romance with Johnny Cash came out two years after the couples' deaths.
She was the godmother of Hank Williams, Jr. The two were very close. "Many people don’t realize that June Carter Cash was my godmother. She and mother were very tight,” Hank told Rolling Stone in 2015.
She played the autoharp. As part of the Carter Family Band, June had music in her bloodstream. She liked the autoharp and played it her whole life, even pictured holding one on the cover of her album Press On.
She had a fling with Elvis Presley. The King wrote her love letters, which Johnny later discovered and promptly threw in a river. But it was Elvis who first told her about an artist named Johnny Cash.
She met Johnny at the Grand Ol Opry in 1956. June was already an established singer and Johnny was a young upstart, but he told her that first day they met that he would marry her someday.
She wrote Ring of Fire about falling for Johnny. One of her future husband's most famous songs--indeed, one of the most famous country songs of all time--June wrote about their love. When she and Johnny met, they were both with other people. She first offered the song to her sister Anita Carter, but it was Johnny's version that took became cannon.
She and Johnny earned a Grammy for Jackson. The couple's twangy duet was recorded in 1967.