Protecting a Legacy: an Interview with Patsy Cline’s Daughter

The world knows her as the first woman of country music, but Julie Fudge knows her just as mom. Just four years old when Patsy Cline died tragically in a plane crash, Fudge grew up discovering her mother through her timeless music. Today, the 55 year-old helps to represent her mother’s estate with her father, and supervises the Always… Patsy Cline Fan Club.

Cline is the subject of the musical Always… Patsy Cline by Ted Swindley, which will be staged by Endstation Theatre Co. starting July 24th at the Academy of Fine Arts in downtown Lynchburg. Fudge is used to watching actresses play her mother, as Cline has been dramatized on screen by Jessica Lange in Sweet Dreams and by Beverly D’Angelo in Coal Miner’s Daughter.

REAGAN: Do you have a favorite song of your mother’s?

FUDGE: They told me as a child that I liked the “Tra La La La Triangle” song very much, but I enjoy her music just as much as anyone else.

REAGAN: Did you ever have ambitions to follow in your mother’s footsteps?

FUDGE: I didn’t hang out at the Grand Ol’ Opry all the time like how some people would think, but I never had something she had… so I never took a professional route into the music business.

REAGAN: What was it that your mother had that made her so special?

FUDGE: She was a very personable person, and always in charge, and very confident… which is something I lack. I think she had something you did not find in females in general at that time, and back then you had to fight and push hard in order to make it.

REAGAN: Have you ever seen a production of Always… Patsy Cline?

FUDGE: I’ve been privileged to see a number of productions. The story itself represents Patsy very well, and the script of the story sounds a lot like mom. In those days, it was not unusual for fans and performers to be friends, so it captures that culture very well.

REAGAN: Did your mother have many friendships with her fans?

FUDGE: She met one lady in Canada, and to this day our families are still in contact. We share each other’s homes and each other’s lives.

REAGAN: Did you ever meet Louise Seger, the fan who befriends your mother in Always… Patsy Cline?

FUDGE: I did meet Louise, and she was a very sweet person. In fact, that character is probably my favorite part about the play. She is such a hoot, and I think I would really enjoy hanging out with her.

REAGAN: What is it like seeing other women portray your mother on stage and screen?  

FUDGE: It is a little strange, but we’ve become accustomed to people playing her. Coal Miner’s Daughter and Sweet Dreams are both good movies, but Sweet Dreams was half-story and half-Hollywood, and there have been misconceptions made from that movie. For instance, mom’s favorite flower was a red rose, but the film claims that it was a blue rose.

REAGAN: What do you think is the biggest misconception people have about your family?

FUDGE: That the people who represent Patsy Cline are not accessible, or that we’re above them in some way. We are no different than anybody else and are always willing to answer any questions someone may have.

REAGAN: What do you think was your mother’s greatest accomplishment?

FUDGE: Personally, I think she wanted to have a family and a career she enjoyed, and I think she accomplished that.

REAGAN: What’s it like interacting with fans of your mother?

FUDGE: Fans today are very excited, and I try to be just a representative for her. I’m not Patsy… I’m just as big a fan as anybody.

REAGAN: Thank you so much, Ms. Fudge, for volunteering your time to chat with me this afternoon!

Kevin C. Reagan is a student of the University of Arizona, where he studies theatre, history, and journalism. While in school, he works as the editor of the arts & life section of his university’s award-winning newspaper, the Arizona Daily Wildcat. He also works as a content producer for Arizona Public Media. He hopes to pursue a professional career in arts-focused journalism upon graduating with his BFA degree this December. You can follow him on Twitter @KevinReaganUA.

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