Fans who have read my 672-page book, "Jim Reeves: His Untold Story," were no doubt surprised to read of the singer's long-term professional as well as romantic relationship with a Hollywood publicist, Bea Terry. A fellow Texan, Bea was introduced to Reeves in 1954 by his first record producer, Fabor Robison. Jim soon became emotionally involved with her such that he talked often of leaving his wife. But Ms. Terry dissuaded him from doing so, just as she talked him out of moving to Hollywood to pursue a career in the movies.
In my book I detail their relationship with many quotes from Bea, who carefully documented their interactions. I subjected her recollections to very thorough scrutiny, and found that the incidents she described were verifiable by proof from other sources as well.
A notoriously inaccurate and trouble-making Holland webmaster has now posted another one of those anonymous essays that bear the stench of having been written by a British former fan club rep whom Mary Reeves abandoned years ago with good reason. These two boys are always anxious to stir the pot.
Anyway, the statement is made that Bea Terry's son, Don Howard, "seems desperate to play down and soften the relationship between his mother and Jim, which has already been portrayed as much more adulterous and torrid. It is difficult to imagine what has suddenly caused this outburst of damage limitation, much like closing the stable door after the horse has bolted." He cites a post Don made on the website of a Reeves family member, in which Mr. Howard recounted some of the help his mother had been to Jim's career and casually remarked that "Bea loved Jim but was not 'in love' with him as he pushed her to be." From this innocent statement, the British/Holland fan guys seem to be extrapolating that I made more of the Reeves/Terry romance than was warranted.
I asked Don Howard about this and received his reply this morning, as follows:
"Larry, I did receive an email from [expletive deleted], but did not answer him. He wanted to use my posting...on his site and wanted my permission. I don't plan to correspond with him at all. I will post whereever I can to clear this matter up. My only comment was Jim was in love with Bea and would have left Mary in a heartbeat. Bea loved Jim, but was not 'in love' with him and I can't swear if they had a sexual affair or not, one would think they did. Sorry for any confusion, all I want is Bea in the Texas CM Hall of Fame where she belongs. And one thing, I didn't hate Mary, I certainly did not like her for what she did to Bea about 'Am I Losing You'. If that trailer with all of Bea's personal items had not been stolen, Mary would not have the song and history would have been written differntly. She had letters, the lyrics to 'Am I Losing You' handwritten and signed 'With all my love, for all your hard work, my gift to you, [signed] Jim'. She tried to not accept it and tried for sometime, but Jim wouldn't hear of it. That's why, at first, she was billing Jim for her work on the song. Jim's comments were 'That's my song for you about us and I hope I'm not losing you.' He never could understand that he had already lost her, to the only man, she told me on her deathbed, that she ever loved was my Dad, but they couldn't be married and live togather, that would be like fire and gasoline. They did stay great friends and we had a 'Full Family' reunion with Dad, Bea, my children and me in 1992 and I have great pictures. Bea also went to Dad's funeral and cried more than anyone else.
"If you want to post this, you have my permission...
"P.S. I hope your Patsy Cline records sell millions, we need more of her music."
As to whether or not Jim and Bea ever became intimately involved, I quoted Bea verbatim that they WERE. I also made it clear that she repeatedly turned down his overtures for an even more serious relationship. Jim even wanted to buy a restaurant in the mountains and feature entertainment and have Bea run it. He tried to buy her a new convertible but she declined his offer. They remained close friends the rest of Jim's life, and even believed they were able to communicate with each other on a psychic level. I have many anecdotes from Bea in my book in which she describes Reeves hiding out at her Hollywood apartment, the places they went and the friends they saw, the time they ran into Eleanor Roosevelt at lunch, etc. Bea also came to Nashville and on one memorable occasion when a drunk at the deejay convention embarrassed Bea, Reeves took after the man. To avert a public scene that could be damaging to Jim's career, Bea managed with the help of two friends to get the singer out of the building. They then drove in Jim's 1932 Buick to Hank Williams' home, where Bea was a guest of her close friend Audrey Williams.
When Jim died, Bea had visions of where the crash site was without having been told any details at that point and is quoted in my book as saying her visions were accurate.
The Bea/Jim romance is the subtext of my book and it's an important one because she reshaped Reeves' singing style and convinced him to sing more softly and closer to the microphone. Jim credited her with teaching him how to sing on records. She also opened many doors for him, got him booked on his first overseas tour, helped him secure a contract with RCA and membership with the Grand Ole Opry, even according to Dee Kilpatrick lobbied for him to be the show host of the daily, one-hour ABN show that Reeves hosted out of Nashville for 6 months starting in October 1957.
I have many details of their romance in my book but I also quote Bea as observing that Jim's jealous rages were one of the reasons she felt that they could never be together full time. I describe how Reeves unwittingly sabotaged Bea's efforts to get him invited to join a Bob Hope Christmas tour, by misinterpreting the fact that she showed up at one of Jim's concerts with Bob's brother in tow who was simply a family friend. Unfortunately, Jim threw a fit of jealousy and permanently alienated Mr. Hope.
I also describe how after Jim was killed, Mary Reeves hired a lawyer in Bea's hometown and threatened to sue her for the return of "Am I Losing You," even though various witnesses could attest Jim gave Bea the song. It would appear that Mary not only wanted to retaliate against the woman whom she felt had claimed too much of her husband's attention, but also because Ronnie Milsap was recording the song and Mary knew it would make a lot of money. So she wanted the copyright back. Bea was in the process of moving from California back to Texas and the trailer containing her personal belongings was stolen overnight, just before her move. She lost the documentation that Jim had given her the song and hence had no choice but to sign it over to Mary. However, I have Bea's full-throated protest in my book about how she was treated by Mrs. Reeves whose marriage, Bea felt, she had actually saved.
You can order a copy of my book at the link below.
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