Dennis Quaid is Working on a Movie About Charley Pride's Life

Jordan Strauss/Invision/AP and Evan Agostini/Invision/AP

Hollywood superstar, recording artist and recent Grand Ole Opry performer Dennis Quaid will have a hand in a forthcoming biopic titled The Charley Pride Story.

Deadline reported in July that Quaid will produce the film alongside Third Coast Content.

"I tried to do a movie on Charley Pride years ago, and it just didn't go anywhere at the time," Quaid told Wide Open Country in a recent video interview. "My good friend was Jack Clement, who was a great mentor to Charley. So I got ahold of Charley and asked if I could just come and meet him in Dallas. I went and had Mexican lunch with he and his wife Rozene. This was before the pandemic. We got it up and running again."

Rozene Pride, the country legend's wife from Dec. 28, 1956 to his Dec. 12, 2020 passing, will help tell an important chapter in country music and pop culture history.

"The writer, Dianne Houston, sat down with Charley and Rozene and really had them tell her everything from scratch," Quaid said. "It might be told with a little bit of Rozene's point of view, as well, because she really witnessed everything. It's going to be very truthful and thought-provoking, I think.

"It's the story of their amazing marriage, and it's pretty incredible," Quaid adds. "Life on the road and going through the '50s and the '60s and the Civil Rights Movement and all the rest of that. And Charley's unique point of view about himself and when it comes to race. I think it's a story everyone can relate to."

Biopic rumblings date back to at least 2006, with both Terrence Howard and Dwayne Johnson rumored at different times for the leading role.

The film would fulfill a goal Pride shared with Entertainment Weekly in 2019.

"My ultimate want is a movie about my life," Pride said. "Because every movie that they've done about a country artist, an Oscar came of it. Sissy Spacek for Loretta [Lynn]. Of course, they had Jamie Foxx for Ray Charles and Reese Witherspoon [for June Carter Cash in Walk the Line]. Mine was all ready to go in 2008. And they had the producers, directors, everything. Terrence Howard was going to play me. [It didn't happen because] they had some internal things going on at Paramount. Now, we're working with a [producer] that was involved with A Time To Kill with Samuel Jackson, and a guy that's now involved with A Star Is Born. So, we're trying to make sure we get it off the ground."

Read More: Dolly Parton, Darius Rucker + More Pay Tribute on Social Media to Country Music Legend Charley Pride

The son of sharecroppers, Charley Frank Pride was born on March 18, 1934 in Sledge, Mississippi. His 10 siblings from back home include fellow Negro American League baseball player Mack Pride Jr. (both brothers played for the Memphis Red Sox) and Texas singer-songwriter Stephen Pride.

After years of trying to see out his Major League Baseball dreams, Pride turned his attention to country music. His groundbreaking run with RCA Records began with the 1966 single "The Snakes Crawl at Night" and proved itself permanent when "All I Have to Offer You (is Me)" topped the country charts in 1969. By the end of the '70s, Pride was a three-time Grammy award winner and his label's best-selling performer since Elvis Presley.

Between his first country hit in 1966 and 1989, Pride lent his smooth baritone voice to 29 No. 1 hits and over 50 Top 10 tracks on the Billboard Hot Country Songs chart, including "Just Between You and Me" (1966), "Is Anybody Goin' to San Antone" (1970) and "Kiss an Angel Good Mornin'" (1971).

Industry honors for Pride include CMA (Country Music Association) Entertainer of the Year (1971) and Male Vocalist of the Year (1971, 1972) awards.

Pride accomplished many firsts in his career. For instance, he was the first country star to sing the National Anthem at the Super Bowl (1974). A year later, he became the first Black man to co-host the CMA Awards when he shared master of ceremonies duties with Glen Campbell. He remained the only African American to fill that role until Darius Rucker co-hosted this year's broadcast with Reba McEntire. In 2000, Pride became the first Black performer inducted into the Country Music Hall of Fame (DeFord Bailey joined him in the rotunda in 2005).

His last public appearance came during the CMA Awards' Nov. 11 broadcast, during which he accepted the Willie Nelson Lifetime Achievement Award and sang "Kiss an Angel Good Mornin'" with fellow Black country star Jimmie Allen.

Pride died on Dec. 12 at age 86 from COVID-19 complications. The Dallas, Texas resident is survived by Rozene and their three children: fellow country singer Dion, reggae band leader Kraig (known professionally as Carlton) and a daughter, Angela.

For more on Pride's story, check out PBS' American Masters documentary Charley Pride: I'm Just Me. It can be watched for free through Dec. 26 on the PBS website and on the PBS Video app. After that, the 2019 documentary will return to the members-only PBS Passport streaming service.


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Dennis Quaid is Working on a Movie About Charley Pride's Life