Jeannie C. Riley Reportedly Bipolar

Crippled by bipolar depression for years

Jeannie C. Riley Manic Depression
Jeannie C. Riley. Getty Images - Michael Ochs Archives - Michael Ochs Archives

Note: According to Joy Ikelman's "Famous People Files" (no longer online), country-western singer Jeannie C. Riley told Country News of The Nashville Network in 1995 that she suffers from bipolar disorder. We were unable to locate this interview online. We did find one interview where she spoke of suffering from long-term clinical depression.

Jeannie Carolyn Riley, née Stephenson, was just 23 when she rocketed to stardom with the overnight sensation "Harper Valley PTA" in 1968.

Her sudden success proved overwhelming; her young marriage to childhood sweetheart Mickey Riley ended in divorce in 1970. However, after she became a born-again Christian, she and Riley remarried a few years later.

She continued recording country songs but never again came close to achieving the success of "Harper Valley PTA." Jeannie recorded gospel music and wrote an autobiography, From Harper Valley to the Mountain Top, published in 1980.

According to one source, Jeannie's family had her committed to a hospital for evaluation, probably in 1994, after she fell into a deep depression. In 1995, reportedly, she was bankrupt but was exploring possibilities for returning to the performance circuit, but in August of this year she told the Abilene Reporter-News, "I was bed-ridden with depression for six years. All I did was eat and go right back to bed. I had no will to do anything. I thought the depression was going to kill me." She and Mickey were again divorced.

But after a long, hard struggle, she says she is back on her feet with help from friends, family and faith.

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