Friends Remember The "Belle of Branson"

Chisai Childs Helped Bring In Entertainers Like Boxcar Willie and Shoji Tabuchi

3/2/2017 - BRANSON, Mo. – A trailblazer for the city of Branson has died.

Chisai Childs was known for “bringing the glitter” to Branson, along with some of the city’s biggest names.

"You can't think of entertainment in Branson and not think of Chisai,” says Branson Mayor, Karen Best.

“She's one of the reasons that we have the great entertainment that we have."

Childs, simply known as Chisai to many of her friends, was an entertainer from an early age. She got into show biz at the age of six, was named “Miss Talented Teen” in 1965, toured several USO shows and performed at locations across the country.

But maybe her biggest impact was helping put Branson on the map by bringing in names like Boxcar Willie, Doug Gabriel and Shoji Tabuchi, among many others.

"I was just talking to Shoji the other day and asked him to tell me how he got to Branson,” says Best, “and it was real easy for him; he got this big grin, big smile on his face, and it was one word, 'Chisai.’’

But those who knew her say Chisai didn’t just have an eye for talent, she also knew how to sell talent to the millions of Branson visitors.

"When they first started doing the shows, they were just dressing anyway,” says long-time friend and creator of the Terry Music Awards, Terry Beene.

“She brought the glitter and the glitz, and that's why they have it today,” he says. “Mike Patrick over at the Grand Country, The Presley’s -- they've all got beautiful uniforms and that's because of Chisai."

Chisai not only upped the production value of the shows in Branson, she also had her own television show called “Chisai and the Ozarks” and a radio show with Boxcar Willie called “Boxcar’s Bandstand.”

Chisai also played a large role in bringing the “Terry Music Awards,” which recognizes performers and the men and women behind the scenes, from Texas to Missouri.

“It's the same way back in Texas -- the way people talk about her," he says.

Beene did plenty of talking with Chisai himself, the two were friends from more than four decades.

"We were best friends, we talked three or four times a day,” Beene says. “Every night before she went to bed she called me… It just a great loss for me.

Both Beene and Best says they will work to find fitting tributes to Chisai.

Ideas include potentially darkening the strip for a few minutes and naming the next Terry Music Humanitarian Award in her honor.

"It didn't matter how long you knew Chisai, the first moment you met her she was your friend and she was your friend for life,” Best says.

An official cause of death is unknown at this time. Beene says he talked with Chisai just a few hours before she was rushed to the hospital.

He says her funeral has been scheduled for March 5 at one o’clock at the Baldknobbers Theatre.

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