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Irlene Mandrell first rose to prominence as a model for CoverGirl, and later gained national attention when she appeared from 1980–1982 with her siblings on the highly rated Barbara Mandrell and the Mandrell Sisters TV variety show. Shortly after the show's cancellation, she joined the cast of Hee Haw for a number of years as one of the "Hee Haw Honeys." She also appeared on two episodes of The Love Boat, and worked as a commercial spokesperson for a wide range of products. She has competed in auto racing.
Since the late 1990s, Mandrell has hosted the annual Irlene Mandrell Celebrity Shoot to raise money for Wish Upon a Star, Inc. and the Boy Scouts of America. The event, previously held in Branson, Missouri, was held in Jennings, Louisiana in 2008.
Ellen Irlene Mandrell was born on January 29, 1956 to Mary Ellen (née McGill; born August 4, 1931) and Irby Matthew Mandrell (October 11, 1924 – March 5, 2009) in Corpus Christi, Texas. Sister Barbara is older by seven years; Louise, by just a year and a half. Irlene's mother Mary was a homemaker and musician hailing from a large family in rural Wayne County, Illinois. Her father Irby was a World War II naval veteran and Texas police officer from Garland County, Arkansas. Irby Mandrell was an accomplished musician and entrepreneur as well. He used his impeccable social skills and knowledge of the music industry to manage all three of his daughters' careers for over 3 decades.
Mandrell's early life started off much like her older sisters'. Her family was always musical; her parents came from a musical background. She played the drums as one of the first members of Barbara's band, The Do Rites. Though music has always been the Mandrell Sisters' mainstay, other entertainment forms appealed to Irlene Mandrell. She has enjoyed an extraordinarily varied career as an actress, model, and performer. She is probably most famous for her role on the hit NBC show Barbara Mandrell and the Mandrell Sisters. Irlene captured two awards for Comedy Act of the Year from Music City News and later sought opportunities in film, television, and video. Her many fans followed her talents as she joined the cast of Hee Haw where she had an eight-year starring run (until the close of the show). Irlene has also made appearances on other television shows including: The Love Boat, The Oprah Winfrey Show, The Tonight Show Starring Johnny Carson, The Mike Douglas Show and many game shows. She co-hosted Bright Lights & Country Nights and This Week in Country Music, televised benefits with names such as George Lindsey, Bob Hope, Sammy Davis Jr. and many more. Irlene has been a model for several companies including Cover Girl shoes, Lanne Skin Care products and 9West shoes.
Irlene and her sisters Louise & Barbara co-starred in the top rated Barbara Mandrell and the Mandrell Sisters television variety show on NBC from 1980–1982. The show had 40 million viewers weekly and was the last successful prime-time TV variety show. Irlene was a member of the Hee Haw cast from 1983–1991. She also appeared as a celebrity panelist on Password Plus in 1981 and Match Game in 1982.
Irlene Mandrell is an accomplished hunter. She has hunted North America extensively (in the US and Mexico) and has taken hunting trips to South America and Africa. She has killed several animals that qualify for the SCI Record Book. Mandrell is proficient with handgun, shotgun, rifle, and crossbow. She is very competitive in many sporting events, including as a racecar driver. She is an active member of several outdoor groups including Quail Unlimited, Buckmasters, the NRA, and Safari Club International. She is a life member of National Wild Turkey Federation and has served several years at the Sportsman Against Hunger banquet.
For over 10 years Irlene has been affiliated with the National Whitetail Deer Education Foundation, which is headquartered at Deerassic Park in Cambridge, Ohio.
Irlene Mandrell participates in several charities, such as Pegasus, Special Olympics, American Heart Association, and Easter Seals, but is closest to Wish Upon A Star and the Boy Scouts. The Irlene Mandrell Celebrity Shoot raises a large amount of money for both Wish Upon A Star and the Boy Scouts. As a 501c3 charity event, the Shoot has contributed hundreds of thousands of dollars to these two causes.
As of 2012[update] Irlene Mandrell is a celebrity spokesperson for several companies. She speaks for CZ-USA, She Safari, Horton Crossbows, DRT Ammo, Wild Ride Beef Jerky, and Deerassic park. Mandrell has appeared on several outdoor shows, and is featured in "Irlene Mandrell Straight Shooter," a segment on PBS's Tennessee's Wildside. On May 23, 2015, Irlene released her very first single, "We will stand", which went all the way to #1 on the Indie Charts. An album is to follow.
Mandrell was married to Ric Boyer, whom she divorced in 1992. She and Boyer have two children. She married Rob Pincus in 1994, with whom she has one child. They were divorced in 2004. In 2015 she married musician Patrick Holt.