Wednesday, November 6, 2013

November 5: "King of the Cowboys" Roy Rogers – “Happy Trails to You” – was born on this date in 1911…


… he died on July 6, 1998.
Roy Rogers, was born Leonard Franklin Slye on November 5, 1911 in Cincinnati, Ohio. An American icon, Rogers was one of the most heavily marketed and merchandised stars of his era, as well as being the namesake of the Roy Rogers Restaurants franchised chain.

He and his wife Dale Evans, his golden palomino, Trigger, and his German Shepherd dog, Bullet, were featured in more than 100 movies and The Roy Rogers Show.

The show ran on radio for nine years before moving to television from 1951 through 1957. His productions usually featured a sidekick, often either Pat Brady (who drove a Jeep called "Nellybelle"), Andy Devine, or the crotchety George "Gabby" Hayes.

Rogers's nickname was "King of the Cowboys" and Evans's nickname was "Queen of the West.” The economic hardship of the Great Depression had the Slye family traveling from job to job picking fruit and living in worker campsites. 

Leonard, having seen the joy that his guitar and singing had brought to the destitute around the campfires, hesitantly told his father that he was going to pursue a living in music. With his father's blessing, he and cousin Stanley Slye went to Los Angeles and sought musical engagements as the Slye Brothers.

In 1932, a palomino colt was foaled in California named "Golden Cloud,” and later renamed "Trigger" in 1938 after he was acquired by Len. Len then went on tour with the "O-Bar-O Cowboys."

After his first wife Arline, died in childbirth, Rogers and Dale Evans married on New Year's Eve in 1947 at the Flying L Ranch in Davis, Oklahoma, where a few months earlier they had filmed Home in Oklahoma. Rogers and Evans remained married until Rogers's death in 1998. After four years of little success as a singer, he formed the Sons of the Pioneers with Bob Nolan and Tim Spencer, a Western cowboy music group, in 1934. The group hit it big with songs like "Cool Water" and "Tumbling Tumbleweeds.”

From his first film appearance in 1935, he worked steadily in western films, including a large supporting role as a singing cowboy while still billed as "Leonard Slye" in a Gene Autry movie. In 1938, when Autry temporarily walked out on his movie contract, Slye was immediately rechristened "Roy Rogers.” Slye's stage name was suggested by Republic Picture's staff after Will Rogers and the shortening of Leroy. and assigned the lead in Under Western Stars.

Rogers became a matinee idol and American legend. A competitor for Gene Autry as the nation's favorite singing cowboy was suddenly born. In addition to his own movies, Rogers played a supporting role in the John Wayne classic Dark Command in (1940. Rogers became a major box office attraction.

For more about Roy and Dale, visit this Website:

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