They’re among the most iconic women in country music history, but during their downtime, gal pals Patsy Cline and Loretta Lynn were just plain folks. “What they loved most was losing the country-girl singer hats and spending time at each other’s homes,” Loretta’s daughter Patsy Lynn tells Closer. “Both Mom and Patsy had good-time husbands, so they mostly talked about them, raising babies and — as my mom called some of the women in Nashville — home-wreckers. I’m sure they had a ball talking about that.”
Now their close friendship is the subject of a Lifetime movie, Patsy & Loretta, premiering October 19 at 8 p.m. ET. In the film, Megan Hilty plays Patsy while Jessie Mueller plays Loretta. “I love telling stories about friendships between women who are different,” says director Callie Khouri, who won an Oscar for writing 1991’s Thelma & Louise. “Unfortunately, this one wasn’t as long-lasting as it should’ve been.”
The dear friends had known each other for only 18 months when Patsy was tragically killed in a plane crash at 30 in 1963. But they packed a lot of memories into that short period of time. “Patsy showed my mom, who was 28, how to shave her legs,” Loretta’s daughter reveals. “My mom still has the razor Patsy gave her — it’s in her [Coal Miner’s Daughter] museum at her ranch in Hurricane Mills [in Tennessee].”
Eerily, it was a car crash that first brought the women together. Patsy was in the hospital recuperating from injuries she’d suffered in an auto wreck when she heard Loretta sing “I Fall to Pieces” on a live radio show broadcast from Ernest Tubb’s Record Shop in Nashville. The lesser-known Loretta dedicated Patsy’s hit song to her along with get-well wishes.
“Patsy’s husband, Charlie Dick, drove down to the record shop that night and told my mom that Patsy wanted her to visit Madison Hospital,” says Patsy Lynn. “My mom said she was nervous because she thought Patsy may not have liked her singing the song. But of course she did, and from the start, they became the best of friends.”
The greatest lesson Patsy taught Loretta was that “it’s OK to be a strong woman,” says Patsy Lynn, who is co-writing a book with Loretta called Me and Patsy, due next spring. “Patsy believed in my mom before my mom believed in herself. That was new to my mom, to really feel that someone — not her family, but a friend — had her back.”
Although Patsy and Loretta spent much of their time touring, the hard-working moms made sure their children knew how much they were adored. “My mom loves with her whole heart,” Patsy Lynn says. “Even being away from her family as much as she had to be, we all knew we were well-loved, and that made it all OK.”
A year after Patsy’s death, Loretta named one of her twin girls after the woman who became like a sister to her. “My mom makes a point to talk to me about their friendship,” Patsy Lynn says. “She wants me to know how important Patsy Cline was to her.”
If Patsy were alive today, daughter, Julie Fudge tells Closer, “She would be proud and amazed” by her enduring popularity.
As Loretta recovers from a stroke she suffered in 2017, “she loves to talk about Patsy,” her daughter says. “For more than 50 years now, she’s performed a medley of Patsy’s songs in her live show. It feels like we’re all family.”
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