Roni Stoneman, ‘Hee Haw’ star, banjo player dies at 85

Photo of Stoneman in 1965 from Walden S. Fabry Collection, courtesy of the Country Music Hall of Fame and Museum

Roni Stoneman, who was part of the long-running television show, “Hee Haw,” died Thursday. She was 85.

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No cause of death was released, Variety reported.

Roni Stoneman was born Veronica Loretta “Roni” Stoneman, according to Billboard.

She was known as “The First Lady of Banjo,” according to a statement from Country Music Hall of Fame and Museum CEO Kyle Young.

“Country music was a birthright and her life’s work. The second youngest of twenty-three children born to Hattie and Ernest ‘Pop’ Stoneman, Roni was an integral part of a bedrock country music family, who were longtime fixtures in the country music scene of Washington, DC. For eighteen years on ‘Hee Haw,’ she stole scenes as both a skillful banjo player and as a comical, gap-toothed country character. She was a great talent and a strong woman,” Young said.

Stoneman was born on May 5, 1938. According to Billboard, her father, Ernest V. “Pop” Stoneman, was a pioneering bluegrass musician. He was best known for his recording of “The Sinking of the Titanic,” which was released in 1925.

She was part of the group called The Stoneman Family, according to Variety. The Stoneman Family won a CMA Award for vocal group in 1967. In 1971, Stoneman left the group and joined the cast of “Hee Haw.”

In the television show, “Hee Haw,” Stoneman played “the Ironing Board Lady,” Ida Lee Nagger, Variety reported.

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