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December 08, 1991|EDMUND NEWTON

Ah, the 1950s.

Ike was in the White House. The Yankees owned the World Series. And Uncle Miltie ruled the ratings on the tube.

The radio airwaves? Those belonged to Patti Page, many will tell you.

The former "barefoot girl from Claremore, Okla.," may be past her heyday, but those old recordings are still with us.

"Old Cape Cod" was featured recently in the film "Diehard 2." "How Much Is That Doggie in the Window?" is a never-die radio chestnut.

And "Tennessee Waltz," Page's bittersweet lament for a lost love, has become the second best-selling single ever recorded (after Bing Crosby's "White Christmas").

The song, delivered in Page's slow, folksy, deliberate style, has sold 8 million copies, making her the all-time best-selling female vocalist, her publicists say. She has 13 gold records to her credit.

Born in Claremore, Page was one of 11 children. She got her break in the classic way--filling in for a suddenly absent singer on a Tulsa radio station. She made a name for herself with her confident way with a country and Western song and started making the rounds on radio shows and nightclubs.

There were other recordings in the 1940s, but "Tennessee Waltz," released in 1950, floated to the top of the charts.

Page, now 60ish, will appear at the San Gabriel Civic Auditorium at 8 p.m. Monday as part of the Civic Light Opera of San Gabriel Valley's second annual "Showcase of Stars."

Singer-ventriloquist Susan Gift Porter will open the show.

Tickets, ranging from $20 to $30, are on sale at the box office, 320 S. Mission Drive, San Gabriel. For information, call (818) 308-2868.

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