When she was 16, the future Patti Page got her stage name while working at radio station KTUL, which had a 15-minute program sponsored by Page Milk Co. When the previous Patti Page singer left, Clara Ann Fowler accepted an invitation to audition and got the job.
In 1946, Jack Rael, a band leader who was making a stop in Tulsa, heard Page sing on the radio. Rael called KTUL, asked where he could hear her live and headed over the Petroleum Club to catch her performance. He gave up his own music career to become her manager.
“When she left, she took the name — she got it legally — and so she was called Patti Page. And she was gone,” Layton said. “But she was always the same. Just Patti. She was always giving.”
Inducted into the Oklahoma Music Hall of Fame as part of its inaugural class in 1997, Page also was awarded the Living Legend Award from the Oklahoma Jazz Hall of Fame and the Pioneer Award from the Academy of Country Music. She received stars on the Hollywood Walk of Fame and the Country Music Walk of Fame, and she earned a Grammy in 1998 for Best Traditional Pop Vocal Performance for her CD “Patti Page Live at Carnegie Hall: The 50th Anniversary Concert.”
“She was the best public relations person for the state of Oklahoma there ever was,” said Tim Akers, Page's great-nephew and the family's historian. “She loved the state, and in fact, in every one of her shows, there was always a reference to Oklahoma.”
In her later career, Page and husband Jerry Filiciotto spent half the year living in Southern California and half in New Hampshire. He died in 2009.
Page is survived by her son, Daniel O'Curran; daughter, Kathleen Ginn; and numerous grandchildren, including two teenage granddaughters she raised. Layton, who will be traveling with her own granddaughter Emily Layton, 21, said she and O'Curran will accept the Lifetime Achievement Award Saturday on her sister's behalf.
“It'll be an emotional experience. I don't know what I'm gonna say. I'm not gonna write it down. I think I'm just gonna shoot from the hip,” Layton said. “I think maybe I'll just talk about my sister.”
Contributing: The Associated Press.